Sunday, December 03, 2006

Concerns Over Decline in Korea's Population

About a year ago while attending a lecture at the University of California San Diego's Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, a senior Korean economist brought up a concern. The Korean economist noted Korea's zero population growth. He pointed out this would have huge impact on Korea in the next decades with few new workers joining the workforce. The issue of population growth is a frequent topic of discussion in Korea. This Korea Korea Herald provides some interesting statistics.

The Korean population in the 30-49 age bracket will start declining next year. Meanwhile, people aged 60 or more will likely top 7 million in 2008 and account for 15 percent of the total population in 2010, according to the Korea National Statistical Office and the Ministry of Planning and Budget yesterday.
The government agencies are warning that this rapidly aging demographic will negatively affect the economy's productivity and overall competitiveness.

The nation's population is estimated to stand at 48.29 million at the end of this year. The figure is expected to increase year by year to reach a peak of 49.34 million in 2018, and then start declining.

But for the 30-49 group, who should be most active in economic production and consumption, the downward trend will begin next year, which worry demographic experts.

The number of people in that age category reached a record high of 16.75 million this year. It will drop to 16.71 million next year, 16.64 million in 2008, 16.55 million in 2009, 16.47 million in 2010 and 16.4 million in 2011.

Their portion of the total population peaked last year, with 34.78 percent. The figure is expected to decline to 34.5 percent in 2007, 34.24 percent in 2008, 33.96 percent in 2009, 33.71 percent in 2010 and 33.48 percent in 2011.

The decline will continue to 32.21 percent in 2015, 30.88 percent in 2018, 29.36 percent in 2021, 28.32 percent in 2024, 26.90 percent in 2030, 23.32 percent in 2040 and 19.36 percent in 2050, the statistics office forecast.

Without drastic changes, Korea may have the most aged population in 2050 if it continues to suffer from the current birthrate of 1.08, the lowest in the world, experts say.

The statistics office said the number of people aged 60 or more is estimated to stand at 6.51 million this year. The number will approach 7.02 million in 2008, 7.54 million in 2010, 9.09 million 2015, 11.4 million in 2020, 15.7 million in 2030, 18.6 million in 2040, and 19.07 million in 2050.

Their proportion was 13.48 percent of the nation's population this year, and will likely hit 14.46 percent in 2008, 15.43 percent in 2010, 23.14 percent in 2020, 32.36 percent in 2030, 40.17 percent in 2040, and 45.04 percent in 2050.

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