Korea's Population Has Started to Decline

  • By Hwang Ji-yoon

    July 29, 2022 11:48

    Korea's population has already begun to shrink. The so-called "population dead cross" where deaths outnumber births started in late 2019, leading to a natural population decline.

    According to Statistics Korea on Thursday, Korea's population declined 0.2 percent last year to 51.74 million. Population growth peaked at three percent in 1960 and fell below one percent in 1995.

    Gangwon Province, Gyeonggi Province, Incheon, Jeju Island and Sejong administrative city were the only places that did not experience a population decline.

    Korea is also aging fast, with 8.71 million or 16.8 percent aged over 65 now, up 5.1 percent from 2020. At the same time the child population aged 0 to 14 and the working-age population between 15 to 64 are shrinking. The number of children stood at 6.09 million or 11.8 percent of the population, a dramatic fall from 21 percent in 2000. The working-age population stood at 36.94 million, down 0.9 percent from 2020. It has been declining since 2016.

    A dwindling population means fewer workers and consumers and deals a double blow to the economy. A shrinking domestic market could further harm struggling businesses.

    Single households, meanwhile, surpassed 7 million for the first time last year at 7.17 million. This trend is due both to a growing number of younger people choosing to remain single and senior citizens living alone.

    One-person households now account for a whopping 33.4 percent of total households. The number of unmarried couples living together also rose to the highest level on record, up 11.6 percent to 473,000.

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