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Korea’s elderly population ratio hits all-time high in 2015

[THE INVESTOR] The ratio of senior citizens aged 65 and over in South Korea rose to an all-time high in 2015, underscoring the trend that the country’s population is aging at a fast pace, government data showed on Sept.29.

According to the data by Statistics Korea, 6.57 million, or 13.2 percent of the country’s population of 49.7 million, excluding foreigners, is aged 65 or older, which is far higher than the 11 percent tallied in 2010.

The ratio nearly quadrupled over the past half-century from 3.7 percent in 1960 when related data started to be compiled. The figures come amid growing fears that South Korea is fast becoming an aged society, in which more than 14 percent of the population is 65 or older. The country became an “aging society” in 2000, when the ratio topped 7 percent.

Experts worry that the aging population, coupled with the low birthrate, poses a serious threat to the nation’s economy as it could hurt growth potential and lead to fewer working people and increased spending on health and welfare.

The agency said that an average of 5.5 working-age people are supporting the livelihood of one senior citizen this year, compared to 14.9 in 1960, indicating that younger people increasingly have had a greater burden in supporting the lives of senior citizens.

The percentage of seniors to children aged between 0 and 14 reached 95.1 last year, shooting up 10-fold from 9.2 in 1960.