E- Commerce for Senior Citizen Management in Taiwan

Abstract

The issue of senior citizen management has proved challenging for many countries. This is due to the disconnect that exists between the planners and the senior citizens themselves. In Taiwan, the problem is even worse due to the high number of senior citizens which currently accounts for 10% of the country’s population. The high proportion has compounded the problem of senior citizen management due to the fact that a larger proportion of the country’s work force is fast sliding into old age. This research study identifies e-commerce as part of the solution to the senior citizen management issue in Taiwan.

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Therefore it proposes an extensive program to network all the senior citizens through internet connection and enable them to: link up with senior citizen management services across the country; be able to monitor their business and other economic activities from care centers or homes; Access learning services for the aged; be networked to friends and family and have access to digital entertainment to improve the quality of their life. This will provide a long-term solution for Taiwan’s perennial senior citizen management problem.

Introduction

The Taiwanese population is composed of a high percentage of individuals aged above 60 years. These individuals are mainly cared for through senior citizen management service programs in the country. However, this noble idea of taking care of the aged has been faced with various challenges mostly due to the high number of individuals requiring this service. Furthermore, as the proportion of this fraction increases there is a direct threat to the country’s “productive capacity in the sense that the sharp increase in the numbers of senior citizen will put pressure on the remaining proportion of the population” that can actively take part in the national labor activities. (Champy, 1994) This implies that there is need to develop a kind of economic activity that is less intensive and which the senior citizens can easily perform in order contribute to the country’s economic productivity.

This study focuses on e- Business as it is less involving and can comfortably be done by the senior citizens. “e- Business or electronic business refers to the all the business activities carried outline for products and services.” (Nissanoff, 2003) e- Business and e-commerce are often used interchangeably though they may have distinct meanings. According to Kuilboer, in e-commerce, the ICT is often used in inter business or inter-organization transactions. While e-business is often used in to “refer to consumer transactions between firms” and individuals. ( 2002)

The rapid development in Communication Information Technology has made e- Business a reality. Business can now be easily conducted from anywhere so long as there is a computer and internet connectivity. It is this very nature of e-business that makes it a preferred economic activity for the senior citizens. This study will seek to identify ways through which senior citizens in Taiwan can be incorporated to actively take part in e-commerce activities as part of the ongoing senior citizen management programs.

Literature Review

It is necessary to shine more light on the senior citizen situation in Taiwan in order to develop an appropriate e-Business framework that will be beneficial to the country “In the year 2000, the population of Taiwan was estimated to be 22,257000. The number of people of age 14 and below comprised 22% while those in the age bracket of 15 – 64 years comprised 70%.” (Gould, 1999)The earliest data available indicates that the island population “stood at 3.12 million in 1905 and the figure rose to 6.02 million by the year 1945. In the following years the population growth rate averaged 3.84 percent.” (Kahn, 2000) This prompted the Government to “implement strict population control measures such as family planning.

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By 1997, the population growth rate had dropped to 1 percent.” (Gould, 1999) “The life expectancy of the Taiwanese people has been maintained at an average of 77 years for a long time.” (Life expectancy at birth:Total population, 2010) Recent statistics indicate that the figure is closing up to 80 years. This means that Taiwan has a high number of aged individuals as compared to countries with shorter life expectancy

Life expectancy at birth: total population: 77.96 years.

Year Life expectancy at birth Rank Percent Change Date of Information
2003 76.87 50 2003 est.
2004 77.26 51 0.51 % 2004 est.
2005 77.26 52 0.00 % 2005 est.
2006 77.43 53 0.22 % 2006 est.
2007 77.56 50 0.17 % 2007 est.
2008 77.76 51 0.26 % 2008 est.
2009 77.96 51 0.26 % 2009 est.
2010 77.96 50 0.00 % 2009 est.

Taiwan’s population growth currently stands at o.227% this implies that the country has more adults moving into old age than there are children being born to replace them. According to the demographic data available the country has maintained its growth rate approximately 0.2% since 2003. The statistics available indicate that there has been a slight variation in the population numbers of the Taiwanese citizens since 2003 to date; the range has been maintained between 22,603,001 and 23,036,087 with some instances of negative growth. The population stands at 22,974,347 as of July, 2009.

The table below shows the population growth trends of Taiwan since 2003.

Year Population Rank Percent Change Date of Information
2003 22,603,001 47 July 2003 est.
2004 22,894,384 48 1.29 % July 2005 est.
2005 22,894,384 48 0.00 % July 2005 est.
2006 23,036,087 48 0.62 % July 2006 est.
2007 22,858,872 49 -0.77 % July 2007 est.
2008 22,920,946 50 0.27 % July 2008 est.
2009 22,974,347 49 0.23 % July 2009 est.
2010 22,974,347 48 0.00 % July 2009 est.

The distribution of the Taiwanese population according to age shows that majority of the Taiwanese are aged between 15 64 years which contributes 8,416,300 males and8, 267,675 females comprising 72.6 percent of the total population. The age group of between 0-14 years contributes 16.7percent, 1,996,905 males and 1,844611 females. “The age of 65 years and over contributes 10.7 percent of the total population, 1,183,382 males and 1,265,474 females.” (Taiwan age structure, 2010)

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The mortality rate of the Taiwanese population has been undulating throughout the years recent statistics indicate that the “mortality rate stands at 6.76 deaths/1,000 people as of July 2009.”(Leading causes of death for persons aged 65 years and above, 2010) The following table shows how the mortality rate has varied since 2003.

Year Death rate Rank Percent Change Date of Information
2003 6.2 163 2003 est.
2004 6.38 157 2.90 % 2004 est.
2005 6.38 154 0.00 % 2005 est.
2006 6.48 152 1.57 % 2006 est.
2007 6.54 146 0.93 % 2007 est.
2008 6.65 139 1.68 % 2008 est.
2009 6.76 142 1.65 % July 2009
2010 6.76 141 0.00 % July 2009

Taiwan has “witnessed a decline in fertility over the last 30 years; this implies that the proportion of the elderly is rising. It is projected that the proportion of the elderly is projected to double over the next three to four decades.” Life expectancy at birth, 2010) By around the year 2040, more than one in every four Taiwanese will be aged 60 years or older. This situation calls for research on helpful planning and policy development to deal with the rapid advancement of the changes in the age structure.

Caring of an aging parent is a responsibility that nobody is well equipped to undertake. “The gradual change in life brought about by aging is never anticipated” to cause problems in the later years. (Cohen, 1994) As children, we always depend on our parents for everything, the aim is to help us grow well and depend on ourselves. No one ever imagines of ever coming back to give back to an aging parent. Should I be confronted with a need to care for an aging parent, then the following steps describes what I will do. I will first consult with the parent to make a plan on how best I can support him/her. I will then get a house help to monitor my parent, especially when undertaking risky activities such as driving. The house help will also be equipped to ensure that my aging parent is having proper healthy life, through diet, medication and exercises. I will setup a network of people to monitor the situation and build a fund to take care of any problem escalation

Care for the Senior Citizens in Taiwan

“Senior citizens welfare in Taiwan was established in 1980 and was amended ones in 1997.” (Wen, 2010) The Taiwanese constitution states that the “Social security should include employment policy, social insurance, social relief, medical services, national health insurance, and women, disabled, and aboriginal Taiwanese welfare policies.” (Wen, 2010)

“The intensive healthcare service project” established in 1998 offers wide ranging services for the elderly people in the Taiwanese Communities. (Wen, 2010) The services offered include; “homecare service, day-care centers, medical services, and elderly residential plans”. (Wen, 2010) The Taiwanese elderly care services have been rocked by poor quality management. This has been occasioned by the fact that some “private welfare agencies are providing services as charity.” Secondly, nursing homes amounting to 328 are still operating as illegal entities. Thirdly, the agencies are operating without “standard assessment and monitoring systems.” (Wen, 2010)

Existing welfare services in Taiwan

Home care

This service is offered in many counties around the country, it entails the provision of care services to the elderly members of the society in their homes. The services are offered by assigned individuals who may be doing it voluntarily or as workers of the senior citizen welfare agencies.

Day care

In the day care centres, the senior citizens are taken to the centres on daily basis for them to be closely monitored and cared for during the day. The senior citizens are brought to the centres by their family members who proceed to pay the services

Voluntary service

“Voluntary services are offered by voluntary groups which provide free senior citizen care services.” (Wambui, 2002) The voluntary services are mostly offered in the homes of the senior citizens though there are care centres operated as charity homes by several agencies.

Education programs for senior citizens

In the educational programs, the senior citizens are taught how to cope with there situations. This includes counselling services and education on skills aimed at helping the elderly to be self reliant.

Senior citizens centres for recreation

These centres provide recreation facilities to the senior citizens to have a break from the usual boring life they live. The recreational facilities are meant to boost the mental and physical health of the senior citizens.

Senior clubs

The senior clubs are organizations which consist of networks of senior citizens; the purpose of the senior clubs is to provide support and fellowships to the senor citizens.

Hot line for protection services to the elderly

This is emergency lines that are used by the senior citizens in case of any impeding danger due to health complications or assault from the environment.

Physical Examination

These are physical heath checkups to examine the elderly citizens for health problems or fitness. Mostly examines the old age diseases among others.

Health eating services for senior citizens

This are services offered to provide the senior citizens with health diet that is specially designed for their age and condition.

Other services offered for senior citizens in Taiwan includes the following; Provision of residential service for senior citizens, Provision of Accommodation services for senior citizens, Nursing home for the elderly citizens, Provision of community shelters, Provision of residential setting for the elderly.

e- Business

“e- Business or electronic business refers to the all the business activities carried online for products and services” (Zorayda, 2003) e- Business enhances a company’s efficiency through: enhancing the production process where procurement of stocks and payments are made easy; Customer focused process such as marketing, selling and payment for goods are enhanced; internal management services such as employee training and company information sharing are performed without necessitating physical presence.Different types of e- Commerce in which the senior citizens can actively be involved exist. “They include: Business to business (B2B); Business to consumer (B2C); Business to government (B2G); consumer to consumer (C2C) and mobile commerce (m-commerce)” (Zorayda, 2003)

Business to Business

“It basically refers to e- Commerce between firms.” (Nissanoff, 2003) It mainly deals with relationships between companies and businesses. Currently, 80 percent of e- Commerce is of this type. The B2B e- Commerce has witnessed a faster growth and experts predict that it will always be a head of the B2C as it is easier for companies to link up to each other through internet connectivity than to the consumers or customers.

The B2B market has two primary components: “e- frastructure and e- markets. The e- frastructure mainly consists of: Logistics; application service providers such as hosting and management of packaged software from central facility.” (Kuilboer, 2002)

Content management software for facilitation of web site content management and delivery; Web based commerce enablers for example commerce one.

Business to consumer e- Commerce (B2C)

In this type of e-commerce, the customers gather information and purchase physical goods or information goods (electronic material or digitized content such as software or e- books) over an electronic network. The B2C is the second largest form of e- commerce. The most common forms are the online retailing which is often done by companies. “This type of e- Commerce is more commonly used in purchasing of products and in personal financial management including online banking tools.” (Zorayda, 2003)

The B2C e- Commerce reduces transaction costs to a large extent; this is mainly due the increase of consumers in accessing information regarding product ranges and competitive prices.

B2G e- Commerce

This is generally defined as “commerce between companies and the public sector. It refers to the use of internet for public procurement, licensing procedures and government related operations.” (Zorayda, 2003)

The usage of this type of e- Commerce is still low as government e- procurement systems remain underdeveloped but it increases transparency of procurement processes.

C2C e- Commerce

This refers to commerce between private individuals or consumers. It’s characterized by the growth of electronic market places and online auctions, particularly in vertical industries where firms/businesses can bid for what they want form among multiple suppliers.

ICT in Taiwan

By September 2008, “Taiwan had 83% of its households owning computers. Of this, 76 percent were able to access the internet. 72 percent of the households had broadband access and 94% of the online households were using broadband connections.” (ICT in Taiwan, 2010) The growth was as a result of deliberate interventions.

Taiwan market growth can be attributed to several factors:

  • The aggressive deployment of global logistical support systems by Taiwan firms.
  • The growing importance and awareness of e-commerce.
  • The heightened use of information technology, particularly in the areas of web-based applications and electronic commerce.
  • Recognition of the attributes of the B2B EC business model and its capabilities.
  • The Taiwan Government’s promotional plans and strategies.
  • The global logistics and supply chain management system requirements of foreign business partners of Taiwan hi-tech manufacturers.
  • The necessity of appropriate information systems to manage migration of various industries to mainland China.

The number of companies utilizing e- Business in Taiwan was at 26% in 2002, this figure was expected to rise to around 60% by the year 2002. The Taiwanese government has also focused on the development of the” sub-project of e- life which mainly seeks to develop industries such as digital entertainment and online learning.” (Liu, 2002) In the 2001 the government of Taiwan developed a strategy to develop e –commerce in the Agricultural sector.

The main measures to be taken were:

  • To construct a demonstrative e-business system from selected farm marts, outlets, associations or organizations.
  • To assist farm-product organizations in realizing e-business operations.
  • To propagate e-business concepts and cultivate needed personnel.
  • To help the industry to frame the product specifications and data standards required in the electronic trading.
  • To improve the foundation-constructing environment for e-agriculture.

Methodology

“The demographic data provided was analyzed to predict the” growing number of senior citizens in Taiwan.(Walliman, 2006) This data shows that the current growth rate of the Taiwanese population stands at 0.227%, this implies that the number of children being born are very few. Consequently, the number of adults in the population is rising to form a big percentage of the total population and is constantly feeding the senior citizens category.

With a life expectancy of 77.96 years, there is a problem posed by large number of senior citizens for whom adequate provision of care services is proving difficult. Currently the country is already faced with over 10 percent of individuals of 65 years and above. “The following category of age bracket 15 – 64 years accounts for 70% of the population with the 0 to 14 years making only 22% of the total population.” (Government entry point, 2010) Thus there is need to move fast and deal with the issue of senior citizens before it imparts negatively to the Taiwanese economy. This research identifies e- Commerce as an appropriate tool to deal with the senior citizen problem in Taiwan.

The senior citizens are often fragile and mostly remain in the same places for long periods. What if they are offered computers with internet connectivity to remain in touch with the outside world and carry on with their economic activities? These will increase the quality of care for the senior citizens in Taiwan, the computers will be provided both at the service centers and at home depending on where the senior citizen is located. “According to the statistics provided a large percentage of the Taiwanese population has access to computers and internet connection.” (Mugenda, 2002) Therefore the project will not be costly to implement. There are various opportunities for the e-commerce industry that is mutually beneficial both to the senior citizen management service providers and the senior citizens themselves.

Results and Discussion

The comprehensive e-based senior citizen management will result in better service provision for Taiwan’s senior citizens. The specific results of the program will be:

  • Safety and other learning activities for the senior citizens will be easily relayed to majority of the country’s senior citizens whether in the care centres or at home.
  • Senior citizens in need of care services will be directly linked to the care service providers through the internet.
  • Senior citizens both at home and at the care centres will be able to keep in touch with their businesses.
  • The senior citizens will be kept in touch with their friends and be entertainment through social networking services.

Thus, e- commerce will take care of Taiwan’s current senior citizen management issues. However, for the program to there will be a need to develop an appropriate e- frastructure that is tailor made to satisfy the needs of the senior citizens. This will require collaboration between the government and the private sector to ensure most if not all senior citizens in the country are networked. If this framework is developed then it will be beneficial to all parties.

The “senior citizen management service providers will access their customers” while the senior citizens will be able to search and find I deal homes or care centers with ease. (Wambui, 2002) The provision of learning, social networking and business monitoring tools for the senior citizens will increase the quality of services delivery in that the senior citizens will be able to keep in touch with various activities while in the comfort of the care centers or their homes.

Conclusion

The issue of proper senior citizen management has proved challenging for Taiwan. This is due to the complexity involved in the provision of care services to the senior citizens. Some are taken care of by family members while others are left to fend for themselves. The difficulty lies in identifying the people who have no family members and therefore need assistance. With proper mechanisms in place it will be easy to indentify this people and plan adequately for their care. The ICT sector will provide a timely solution for this problem. With a stagnant population growth, Taiwan is at a higher risk of problems caused by high numbers of senior citizens.

The current statistics shows the senior citizens contribute 10% of the total population and the figure is projected to double in forty years. The use of e –Commerce in the provision of comprehensive management services to the senior citizens of Taiwan will provide a long-term solution for the difficulties that are currently faced. This will provide a window for the authorities and other stake holders to take time off and go back to the drawing board. And design a sustainable program that will cater for the needs of the ever increasing proportion of the senior citizens.

Reference list

Champy, J. (1994). Reengineering Management: The mandate for new leadership. London: Harper Collins Publishers.

Cohen, S. a. (1994). Life span developmental pyschology: Methodological Contributions. Cambridge: Cambridge University press.

Government Entry Point ( Major health problems and promotions). (2010). Web.

Gould, S. (1999). Caring for the Elderly. London: Mcmillan Pulishers.

ICT in Taiwan. (2010). Web.

Kahn, O. (2000). Demographic Data Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge university press.

Kuilboer, J.-P. (2002). e- Business and e- Commerce infrastructure. McGraw-Hill: New York.

Leading causes of death for persons age65 years and older by sex. (2002). Senior jounal. senior citizens information and news. Web.

Life expectancy at birth:Total population. (2010). Web.

Liu, F.-S. (2002). E-Commerce in Taiwan’s Agricultural Marketing. Web.

Mugenda, O. (2003). Research Methods: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches. Nairobi: Acts press.

Nissanoff, D. (2003). How the New Auction Culture Will Revolutionalize the way we Buy And sell. New Delhi: Vistaar Publications.

Taiwan Age structure. (2010). Web.

Taiwan death rate (Taiwan Demogaphics). (2010). Web.

Taiwan population. (2010). Web.

Taiwan population Growth. (2010). Web.

Walliman, N. (2006). Your Research Project. New Delhi: Vistaar Publications.

Wambui, A. (2002). Giving back to Your Parents: how to care for your aging Parents. Nairobi: East African Publishers.

Wen, J. -H. (2010). Community care services for older people in Taiwan. Web.

Zorayda, R. A. (2003). e- Commerce and e- Business. London: Mcmillan publishers.

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