Number of Children Drops to All-Time Low

The number of children in Korea has fallen to an all-time low.

Data from the Ministry of Security and Public Administration show that the child population stood at around 7.35 million or 14.5 percent of the total population as of the end of May, a drop of 6.5 million compared to 1972 and 42 consecutive years of decline.

That boils down to a decrease of 484 children a day on average.

In contrast, the number of senior citizens rose 654 a day on average to number around 6.25 million, accounting for 11.9 percent of the total population.

Compared to May last year, the child population fell by 190,000 while the elderly increased by 230,000.

The decline in the number of children prompted Statistics Korea to project that the country's total population will peak at 52.16 million in 2030.

In Japan, which is thought to be aging more rapidly than any other nation, the proportion of children is 12.5 percent while senior citizens account for 24 percent. In other words, there are twice as many old people in Japan as there are children.

In the U.S., children account for 19.1 percent of the population but senior citizens for 13.3 percent, which shows the relative youth of the population.

An official at Statistics Korea said, "There are still more children than senior citizens in Korea, but this will reverse in 2017 when we become an aging society."

Cho Young-tae at Seoul National University said, "Parts of the country with relatively fewer children will lose their vitality as the population starts to decline."

englishnews@chosun.com / Jun. 27, 2014 08:31 KST