South Korea is set to see the number of women overtaking that of men from next year, indicating that the country is turning into an aged society, a government study showed Sunday.
According to a report on population forecast conducted by the state-run Statistics Korea, the female population will reach 25.31 million in 2015, surpassing that of men at 25.30 million. This is the first time that the sex ratio ― number of boys born to every 100 girls ― will reverse since the government began collecting the census data in 1960.
South Korea has had more men due to its strong tradition of preferring sons over daughters. But the proportion of women in the country will grow due to low fertility rate and aging population, the report said.
“The sex ratio last year stood at 105.3. But since women live longer, their numbers will be larger overall,” the agency said.
South Korea’s male population will reach its peak in 2029 at 25.91 million, while the number of women will continue to grow to 26.26 million in 2031. The country’s overall population will grow to 52.16 million as of 2030 and start to decline in the following year.
By the year 2017, Korea is expected to become an aged society with its elderly population projected to stand at more than 14 percent of its total population, the report said.
The change in the demographic structure will have a significant impact on the country’s economy, dragging down its real economic growth by 0.8 percent and raising government debt to 168 percent of the gross domestic product.
The number of people over 65 will grow rapidly to 7.12 million in 2017 from 6.39 million this year, and surpass the 10 million mark in 2025, the report said. For the first time in Korea’s history, the number of people aged 65 or older will also outnumber children aged under 14, it added.
In 2000, South Korea already became an “aging society” with the number of senior citizens making up 7 percent of its population. Asia’s fourth-largest economy will become a “super-aged society” in 2026, with the number of senior citizens taking up more than 20 percent of its population.
The working age population would also reach its peak in 2016 at 37.04 million before starting to decline.
The study showed that the number of people aged between 25 and 49, regarded as the major labor force, has already started to fall. In 2010, the core working population reached 20.43 but declined to 19.58 this year. The number would further drop to 18.84 million it added.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)