Aging population is the most difficult long-term challenge confronting South Korea, the head of Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said on Oct. 25.
Angel Gurria, secretary-general of OECD, urged Seoul to make efforts to better use older workers, saying that the wage peak system is a “positive” step to that end.
“Perhaps the most difficult is population aging,” Gurria told a seminar organized here to celebrate the 20th anniversary of South Korea joining the OECD. “The transition from the fourth-youngest country in the OECD today to the third oldest by 2050 creates challenges, notably for public finances.”
He projected that the aging population will increase the country’s public social spending to 29 percent of gross domestic product by 2060 from the 10 percent tallied in 2013.
Related to this, Gurria underlined the need for South Korea to better utilize older workers, who have to retire at a relatively early age despite their extended life expectancy.
“A third of employees are non-regular workers, such as fixed-term, part-time and dispatched workers. In 2014, non-regular workers were paid 38 percent less than regular workers per hour, even though the skills of temporary workers match those of permanent prime-age workers,” he said.
He also singled out the country’s relatively low employment of women compared with other members of the OECD, urging the government to make more efforts to address the gap and emphasizing that it would help expand its entire workforce.