Malaysia may be short a generational layer following the inclination of parents to have only one or two children, according to a family development expert.
"Men and women who have careers marry late or not at all, leading to fewer children. If we want to replace the population we must have two or more children," said Prof Datin Paduka Dr Jamilah Ariffin, consultant for the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
The inclination (of having less children) snaking through many Asian countries may lead to an increase in the number of senior citizens, she said.
Jamilah said it was not impossible that in the future parents who had been pensioned would still have to provide for their children who had not started working, compared to now where children can still care for their aged parents.
She said right now senior citizens comprise 10 per cent of Malaysia's population of 27 million whereas the life expectancy of its people has increased from 65 years to 71 years for men and 75 for women.
According to her, Malays choose to have between two and three children now compared to seven children at one time, while the Chinese and Indians choose to have one or two kids only.
"So the replacement level for Malaysia is at the 'just enough' level now and will surely be lower in the future. This means our society will become a more aged one," said Jamilah, who is also president of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Families Malaysia, a non-governmental organization.
Jamilah, who has lectured at several universities for 30 years, was recently invited to present a working paper at the UN Family Policy Capacity Building Workshop held here recently.
It was organised by UNESCAP together with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development and aimed at sharing experiences relating to family policies suitable for Asian countries.
On the family policy...