May 29, 2012 09:59
Statistics Korea predicted in 2006 that Korea's population would peak at 49.34 million in 2018 and then dwindle, but next month it is set to exceed 50 million.
One reason for the population growth is the influx of foreigners. Between 2001 and 2005, the standard years used for the population projection in 2006, more people left Korea than entered it. An average of 79,000 Koreans per year left the country in those five years, while only 38,000 foreigners came here, a net outflow of 42,000 a year.
But that trend reversed in 2006 with a growing influx of foreign laborers and women who came here to marry Korean men. From 2006 to 2010, Korea saw a net influx of 283,000 people.
Another factor is a shift in the birthrate. In 2005, the birthrate was 1.08 children per woman, but by 2011 it had risen to 1.24 thanks to medical advances which enabled more and more older women with fertility problems to have babies.
The third factor is the increasing life expectancy.
But the population will not stay above 50 million forever. Based on 2011 projections, it will peak at 52.16 million in 2030 and start declining and fall to 49.81 million in 2045.
This scenario too can of course change. "The population projection can be revised depending on government policies and social trends," said Oh Jung-keun, a professor at Korea University.
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