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Number of seniors tops 1m in Seoul

Citizens over 65 years old account for 9.7% of city population

The number of people in Seoul older than 65 has surpassed 1 million, Seoul Metropolitan Government said Wednesday.

The number of infants and youths, on the other hand, declined.

According to its report, the number of senior citizens marked 1,002,770 as of Dec. 31 last year, a 6.3 percent jump from the previous year’s 942,946. Over-65s now make up 9.7 percent of the city’s 10.3 million population, excluding foreign nationals.

However, the number of citizens under 15 years old was 1,434,580, a 4.4 percent fall from the previous year’s 1,500,794. The number of people between 15 and 64 years old was 7.87 million, about 1.2 percent up from the previous year.

The rise of senior population is expected to wage huge burden on city administration in the future. Moreover, the population is aging faster than the government’s forecast. 
Senior citizens receive their portrait taken for free at a park in Seoul. (Yonhap News)
Senior citizens receive their portrait taken for free at a park in Seoul. (Yonhap News)

Last year, the city said the number of seniors would not exceed 1 million until 2012. A subsidiary think tank of the city government said in a separate report that senior welfare in 2030 would cost 1.4 trillion won ($1.3 billion), about 2.3 times the current expenditure. The assumption was based on the calculation that the senior population would exceed 2 million in 2030 but that amount could bloat if the rate of population aging speeds up.

The number of people aged 15 to 64 to support the elderly population will decrease to 6.27 million by then from 7.6 million in 2009, which means that for every 100 working age people there will be 37.7 seniors. The number is more than double from the current 15 per 100.

The report claimed that Seoul will suffer from decreasing productivity and various other social problems deriving from the aging phenomenon. “Preventing elderly poverty by providing them with jobs should be prioritized,” it suggested.

The government is also providing various perks including “birth subsidies” and advantages in getting state-built apartments and more to promote childbirth.

“It is time to invest in the future,” Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon said in a previous speech.

By Bae Ji-sook (