THE IMPACT on workers arising from efforts to achieve economic integration in Asean are significantly influenced by many internal and external factors -- such as demography, labor force trends, rapid technological change and global competition. National policy responses are also important, in response to the speed adjustments in economic integration and other external --shocks.
Projections regarding population growth, labor force participation, employment, and labor supply are relatively straightforward, though margins of error increase with more long-term estimates. Given an increasingly interdependent global economic environment, assessing economic growth and productivity improvements and their impact on labor markets requires more systematic data and other resources. It is important to understand these limitations when making an assessment of the impact of regional economic integration on workers.
The socio-cultural blueprint on human development declares that Asean will enhance the well-being and livelihood of the peoples of Asean by providing them with equitable access to human development opportunities by promoting and investing in education and lifelong learning, human resource training and capacity building, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, promote the use of English language, ICT and applied science and technology in socio-economic development activities.
In 2007, the ILO published an extensive analysis of the demographic structure and labor force growth in the Asean in relation to other social trends and regional economic integration. The following paragraphs are some of the highlights of the ILO study. It must be emphasized that these findings were made in 2007, and require validation in the run up to 2015.
On the supply side, between 2005 and 2015, Asean‘s total population is expected to grow by 67 million (or 12.1 per cent) to around 620 million. Most of this growth, 43.5 million, will occur in the prime-age population, aged 25-54 years. Projections indicate the population aged 55 years and older will grow by 27.1 million (44 per cent), while the child and youth population younger than 25 years is expected to shrink by about 3.6 million (2.5 per cent).
ASEAN‘s labor force is large and growing. In 2005, it stood at about 275.8 million and it is expected to increase by around 55 million, or 19.8 per cent, between 2005 and 2015.
The projected increase in the relative share of Asean’s prime-age population from 39.9 per cent in 2005 to 42.1 per cent in 2015, together with the expected decline in the proportion of economic dependents in the region, can result in a demographic dividend. A potentially larger labor force presents a window of opportunity, and the demographic dividend could be translated into higher rates of savings and greater investment. Rising investment, in return, can lead to capital deepening, an increase in economic growth potential and productivity growth in terms of output per worker.
(Asean Secretariat (2009), Roadmap for an Asean Community 2009-2015, p. 68. 6International Labor Organization (2007), Labor and Social Trends in Asean 2007 Integration, Challenges and Opportunities Geneva: ILO.)