The Korea Herald


Korea’s senior population hits record-high 6.6 million

By 정주원

Published : Sept. 24, 2015 - 17:50

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The senior population in South Korea hit a record high in 2015, showing that Asia’s fourth-largest economy is about to become an aged society, the state-run statistics agency reported on Thursday.

According to Statistics Korea’s report on senior population in 2015, the number of senior citizens of 65 and over hit a record high of 6.62 million. This is the highest since the statistics agency started began collecting the data in 1960, when it was as low as 2.9 million.

This year’s senior population translates to about 13.1 percent of the country’s total population of 50.61 million, up 0.4 percentage point from the 12.7 percent in 2014. By definition, an “aged society” refers to a society where the share of senior population reaches 14 percent or more of the total population.

According to the OECD standard, a society with senior population of 7 to less than 14 percent is an “ageing society,” of 14 percent to less than 21 percent an “aged society,” and of 21 percent and up a “super-aged society.” In 2000, South Korea’s demographic status officially became an ageing society.

These demographic trends have a number of implications for government and private spending on pensions, health care, and education and, more generally, for economic growth and welfare.

Experts expect that South Korea will become an aged society by 2017 or 2018 at the latest.

The agency estimates the share to further increase to 15.7 percent in 2020 and 24.3 percent in 2030, when the country’s population is likely to reach its highest point, and soar to 40.1 percent in 2060.

The data also showed that 30.6 percent of the country’s recipients of basic livelihood security benefits were seniors, with 39.6 percent of them getting at least one kind of state pension.

The report also estimated that the average pension received by those aged 55 to 79 stood at 490,000 won ($411.8).

By Chung Joo-won (