Korea's Working Population Set for World's Fastest Decline

  • By Yoon Hyung-jun

    December 10, 2019 11:15

    Korea is forecast to see the world's fastest decline in the working population over the next 20 years.

    The World Trade Organization warned in a report that Korea's labor population will decline 17 percent by 2040, the biggest rate among major countries and regions.

    According to the National Assembly Research Service, Korea's labor population peaked at 37.65 million last year and is expected to keep declining.

    The number of unskilled or undereducated workers is expected to shrink 51 percent as a low birthrate leads to a dwindling population of young people, while more and more Koreans stay in school to gain higher degrees.

    China and Japan are expected to see a 14-percent decline in their labor force, Russia an eight-percent drop and the EU only a four-percent decline. The U.S., which is experiencing an influx of laborers from abroad, is expected to see its working population grow around 10 percent.

    In other predictions from the WTO, global GDP will grow an average of 80 percent from 2018 to 2040. But Korea's GDP will grow only 65 percent.

    That is higher than Japan's 19 percent but way below India's whopping 226 percent and China's 141 percent. The WTO said the decline in Korea's working population will have a negative effect on the country's employment rate and population growth.

    Sung Tae-yoon at Yonsei University said, "If the working population declines, the government's fiscal burden rises while economic vitality weakens, causing the country's potential economic growth to fall. Korea needs to boost its birthrate and labor productivity.

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