Korea to Become World's Oldest Society in 2045

  • By Shin Su-ji

    September 03, 2019 13:15

    Korea is forecast to have the highest proportion of senior citizens in the world in 2045, while its economically productive population will fall to the lowest place in the world in 2055.

    Statistics Korea compiled UN demographic data and its own estimates to arrive at the projection.

    If current trends continue, the proportion of senior citizens over 65 in Korea will rise from 14.9 percent this year or 51st place in the world to 37 percent in 2045 to surpass Japan and become No. 1 in the world.

    The ratio will rise even further to 46.5 percent in 2067, leading second-ranked Taiwan (38.2 percent) and third-ranked Japan (38.1 percent) by an even bigger margin.

    An elderly man fills in a form for a public-sector job at a district office in Seoul, in this undated file photo.

    Out of 201 countries, 146 including Korea will see the population of senior citizens continue to rise until 2067. Globally, the proportion of over-65s will increase from 9.1 percent this year to 18.6 percent by 2067. That means Korea's population is graying three times faster than the global average.

    By the same token, the productive population aged 15 to 64 will fall from 72.7 percent this year to 50.1 percent by 2055. By 2067, it will fall even further to 45.4 percent, outnumbered by senior citizens at 46.5 percent. That means every working person will have to support more than one senior citizen.

    The number of childbirths will also drop to the lowest level in the world. The birthrate in Korea from 2015 to 2020 was tallied at 1.11 child per fertile woman, which is already the lowest in the world. Over the same period, the average birthrate of 201 countries stood at 2.47.

    Statistics Korea expects population aging to slow somewhat if the two Koreas are unified. Calculating the population of the two Koreas, the productive population will stand at 51.4 percent by 2067, six percentage points higher than for South Korea alone. The proportion of senior citizens will also fall nine percentage points to 37.5 percent.

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