KUALA LUMPUR, 18 JANUARY 2021 – Inadequate savings, poor retirement plan and an increase in life expectancy among older people in Malaysia will create a problem to the society as the country is gradually moving towards an ageing population, according to the Vice-Chancellor Universiti Malaya, Professor Dato’ Ir. Dr. Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor.
The latest data from Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) revealed that 20% of Malaysia’s population will be 60 and older in 2040, with 1.4 million of these seniors aged 80 and older.
Realising this problem, Professor Dato’ Ir. Dr. Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor said there is a need for a comprehensive database on ageing related issues which will provide useful input towards strengthening social protection policies for older people in the country.
“The Malaysia Ageing and Retirement Survey (MARS) is an enormous project aimed at generating an internationally comparable dataset on middle-aged and older people on issues related to ageing and retirement,” he said during the virtual launch of MARS Wave 1 Snapshot Report in Kuala Lumpur today.
Funded by the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), the MARS research is conducted by Universiti Malaya’s Social Wellbeing Research Centre (SWRC) with technical support from the Survey Research Center, University of Michigan. The MARS study is a nationwide, longitudinal study conducted among individuals aged 40 and older to collect micro-level data on various aspects of ageing.
Modelled on the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) in the United States, MARS will be a national landmark in scientific research providing a much-needed foundation to better understand ageing-related issues in Malaysia and in designing the appropriate evidence-based policies for adults and older people.
Commenting further, Chief EPF Officer of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Alizakri Alias said: "the EPF is pleased with this collaboration with SWRC and the progress of the MARS report. We recognize that the future social and economic needs will be very different from today’s perspective and we need to be able to have a glimpse of what the future may look like in order to prepare appropriately. We will be monitoring the development of the report keenly and the datasets will certainly help in fulfilling our vision of helping our members to achieve a better future."
According to the Director of Social Wellbeing Research Centre (SWRC), Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Norma Mansor, the implications of being an ageing nation will depend on how policymakers and stakeholders respond to the shift.
“With comprehensive policies and strategies in place early, an ageing trend does not necessarily have to have a negative impact on the economy,” she said in an earlier statement.
She also thanked the University of Michigan for the strategic collaboration. “When we forged strategic partnerships, we build on complementary strengths. The University of Michigan is committed to sharing their expertise in community research with a rich data source to study the economics, health, demography of aging and other psychosocial issues that are important in the study of older adults.”
The virtual launch marked the success of MARS Wave 1 project which started from November 2017 to July 2019.