December 10, 2021 11:47

Korea's population will halve over the next 100 years unless the birthrate makes a drastic recovery or immigration brings about a reversal, Statistics Korea said in a biennial projection Thursday.

The current fertility rate of 0.8 children born to a Korean woman in the course of her lifetime will not recover to one until 2030, so the population will decline naturally by 100,000 a year in 2030 and by over half a million by 2070.

That means the population of children under 14 will halve from 6.31 million last year to 2.82 million in 2070, but the elderly population over 65 will more than double from 8.15 million to 17.47 million.

The ratio of child population to elderly population will soar from 1 to 1.3 in 2020 to 1 to 6.2 in 2070. This will raise the median age from 43.7 to 62.2 over the same period.

The proportion of elderly people who have to be supported by a working adult will increase from 38.7 per 100 economically productive population in 2020 to 117 in 2070. Korea's ratio is the lowest among the OECD member states now but will be the highest 50 years from now, according to estimates by the UN.

Statistics Korea also forecasts that neither the fertility rate nor life expectancy will increase as fast as expected, and fewer foreigners than hoped will move here.

In the worst-case scenario, the population will dwindle to 31.53 million in 50 years, down about 40 percent from now, and to just 12.14 million 100 years from now or a mere 23 percent of the current population.

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