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,Investment strategy: EPF members checking their balance statement in Kuala Lumpur. To sustain high returns, the EPF will have to assume higher risks in its portfolio allocation strategy as it is difficult to escape the risk-return trade-offs in its asset allocation.

CHINA is the most populous country and the shrinking of its population is inevitable.

That means even the population-boosting policies to encourage more children does not seem to have worked so far.

But China is not the only country with lower fertility rates and an ageing population. Japan has been on that journey for a long time and so will many other countries that are facing the same situation, and Malaysia is no exception.

Ageing and shrinking population demographics will have major implications on the global economy, investment and risks, and governments will have to spend more on healthcare and social benefits programmes for the elderly, said a report.

As a result, the younger generation will face risks in inequalities of education, health, employment and earnings that will compound in their old age. Besides that, a dwindling younger population has to support an army of older people, said another report.

The United Nations had projected that the number of older persons will double to 1.5 billion in 2050.

Sunway University economics professor Yeah Kim Leng

That explains why the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) believes that by the middle of the next decade, the amount of money on a monthly basis that is going out of the fund will be more than the amount of money going in.

Sunway University economics professor Yeah Kim Leng said the EPF’s projection of higher money outflow versus inflow by the middle of next decade is consistent with the rise in Malaysia’s old age dependency ratio.

The proportion of those aged 65 and above to the working age group between 15 and 64 years is projected to rise from 9.7% in 2020 to around 16.7% in 2035.

“It is not surprising therefore that the cumulative withdrawals upon reaching retirement age are projected by the EPF to exceed the total contributions of the working age population,’’ he said.

It will certainly be more challenging for the EPF to sustain its sterling performance thus far and it will be hard-pressed to generate annual dividend rates that are two or three times above the inflation rate.

Yeah believes that to sustain high returns, the EPF invariably will have to assume higher risks in its portfolio allocation strategy as it is difficult to escape the risk-return trade-offs in its asset allocation.

“While the EPF’s prudent management is a key protection of the retirement savings, the existing schemes allow contributors to channel funds to approved unit trusts as a means of diversification,’’ he said.

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