Korea Leads Developed World in Poverty Among Elderly

  • By Hwang Ji-yoon

    April 07, 2022 13:34

    Korea has the highest level of poverty among people over 66 in the OECD.

    Statistics Korea said Wednesday that the elderly poverty rate -- the proportion earning less than 50 percent of the median income -- stood at 40.4 percent as of 2020. That is four times the poverty rate among younger adults.

    But the elderly poverty rate continues to decline since peaking at 46 percent in 2014 and has fallen 2.8 percentage points since 2019.

    In 2018, the relative risk of poverty for the elderly compared to the total population in Korea stood at a whopping 367.8 percent, also the highest in the OECD.

    Korea's level is higher than Switzerland's 250 percent, Australia's 246.9 percent and Japan's 153.8 percent. The elderly are best provided for in the Netherlands (32.5 percent), Denmark (40 percent) and Norway (44.8 percent).

    The low incomes of senior citizens is the main reason. As of 2020, their median income was W18.1 million, which is just 55.8 percent of the median income of people aged 18 to 65 (US$1=W1,217).

    The blame lies mainly with paltry state pensions and lack of preparation for old age, for example by taking out private pension plans.

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