12.7% of South Korean Population is Over Age 65

D-Bo , March 19, 2015, 10:42 a.m.

The proportion of the population over 65 moved up 0.5 percentage point to 12.7 percent in 2014 from a year ago, data showed Thursday, a clear sign that South Korea is aging at a fast pace. According to data by Statistics Korea, the rise in the percentage of senior citizens corresponds to the dip in the number of newborn babies and backtracking of the natural rate of population increase.

There were over 436,000 newborns last year, down 1,000 from a year before, while deaths hit 266,000 up 2,000 from 2013, with the total population standing at 50.42 million.  The rate of natural population increase, which is the crude birth rate minus the crude death rate, stood at 3.3 percent for 1,000 people, down from 3.4 in 2013.

The population of people over 65 has been growing consistently for decades, rising from just 3.8 percent in 1980 to 7.2 percent in 2000 and 11 percent in 2010. In contrast, young people under 14, whose numbers are directly tied to births, made up 14.3 percent of the total population in 2014 from 14.7 percent the year before and 21.1 percent in 2000.

The statistical office said at the current pace, the percentage of senior citizens will rise to 24.3 percent in 2030 and 32.3 percent a decade later. The figures come amid growing fears that South Korea is fast approaching the "aged society" boundary in which more than 14 percent of the population is 65 or older.

The government expects the country will become a super-aged society around 2026 when at least 20 percent of the people will be over 65. South Korea became an "aging society" in 2000, when the ratio topped 7 percent.

Experts have expressed concerns that the aging population, coupled with low birth rates, poses a serious threat to the nation's economy as it could lead to fewer working people and increased spending on health and welfare.

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