The global growth of care services

Posted in: Blog | 02 May 2017

We’re now two decades into the 21st-century and the world around us is changing rapidly. Among a range of factors, new technology, slowing population growth and shifting economic conditions are combining to create unprecedented growth in the care services industry globally. While some trends such as an ageing population are being seen in nearly every country, other trends are unique to different regions, so let’s take a look at how these trends are affecting demands for care services around the world.

It’s been estimated by the United Nations that approximately 35% of the world’s population will be above 60 years of age by the year 2022. In economic terms, people over the age of 60 will generate 51 percent of urban consumption growth in developed countries, or $4.4 trillion, in the period through to 2030. Not only will there be a significantly larger proportion of older people, they’ll also be spending more, as the current generation of retirees is made up of baby boomers who lived and worked during the greatest period of economic prosperity in human history.

In China, it’s been estimated there will be 248 million seniors aged over 60 as soon as 2020. The challenge for China won’t just be in capacity, as quality of care is likely to be a bigger concern. Because the middle-class in China is growing rapidly, their expectations for better services and demands for higher quality care are offering opportunities for carers and service providers to differentiate themselves in this fast-growing market.

The rapid growth of two-working-parent households in China has also meant a greater demand for childcare services across every age group. After school-hours services have become particularly popular. In mainland China there is an estimated 96 million primary-school students, meaning at least 30 million urban households are expected to use after-school care services. China is also currently dealing with the challenge of encouraging parents to have a second child after the removal of the one child policy, but many potential parents claim a lack of childcare options is preventing them from doing so. Experts expect to see greater investment and incentives in the Chinese early childcare industry in the near future, as the government hopes to kickstart their population growth again.

In Japan, a rapidly decreasing population means their biggest growth market is in aged care for elderly Japanese people. According to their own government statistics, one in four people in Japan is over 75 years of age as their life expectancy is famously the highest in the world at 86 years for women and 80 years for men. Like China, Japan is also desperately trying to increase the size of their early childcare industry, as it was reported the government was attempting to create half a million day care spots for young children as demand for childcare in Japan begins to drastically outpace their supply.

While the rate of change may vary across South America, one thing is clear – most countries are expected to see a drastic increase in the proportion of elderly people in their population. While these proportions may be similar to other countries, South American countries have had significantly less time to adjust. Where high-income countries such as France and Sweden have had around 100 years to adjust as the proportion of older adults doubled from 7% to 14%, countries such as Brazil and Chile will experience a similar shift in about 20 years. This means the health infrastructure investment for aged care in South American countries is currently undergoing a seismic period of change as they prepare to care for significantly larger numbers of elderly people.

In the US, where much is being made of Donald Trump’s pledge to “make America great again”, economists have pointed out that his focus on bringing back lost manufacturing and mining jobs is short sighted at best. They believe the government should focus on encouraging American men in particular, to gain qualifications and enter the growing health and aged care sector which is offering unprecedented employment opportunities.

One study by a pair of Indian economists used the current proportion of care workers in Sweden as a benchmark because of Sweden’s well renowned health and social services. Using Sweden’s ratio of healthcare, childcare and aged care workers as a basis, they estimated if that ratio was replicated in every other country by 2030, the world will have 663 million health workers, 340 million childcare workers and 86 million aged care workers. Across Asia-Pacific alone there would need to be 384 million health workers, 175 million childcare workers and 52 million aged care workers by 2030.

What is abundantly clear around the world, the number of qualified carers needs to increase exponentially in order to keep pace with the changing care needs of Earth’s population. At CHARLTON BROWN®, we’re committed to helping the world meet this challenge through our industry leading suite of care qualifications that are designed to produce the world’s best care professionals.

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