[EDITORIALS]Korean society becomes olderKorea is becoming an aging society, and it is predicted that the population will decrease faster than expected.
Because people are living longer, the birthrate is declining, Korea’s population will peak just shy of 50 million in 2020 and then decline after that. In 2018, Korea will be an aged society with more than 14 percent of the population over 65 years old. Korea’s birth rate is the lowest in the world now. If the problem is not addressed, we will become a super-aged society.
In an aging society, the number of economically and socially active people decreases. It means that the nation stops growth, gets old and wanes. However hard people may try, the work force will be smaller and those dependant on government support will increase.
At present, the economically active portion of the population is about 71 percent but will decrease to 53 percent by 2050.
If that happens, an average of 1.4 young people will have to support one elderly person. It is difficult to expect economic vitality and social dynamism in a society where there are 10 elderly people per a school child. Medical fees for old people and pension payments will grow explosively, pressing us financially. Since there will not be enough young people to defend the nation, national security will be threatened.
Although an aging society is a worldwide trend, the speed in which our society is aging is too fast compared to other advanced countries. Despite the seriousness of the problem, nobody sees it as urgent. But the fate of our nation depends on it. We have to understand why the Singapore government pays large subsidies to couples who have children.
We have to provide a plan as soon as possible. The time to express worry is over. The trend of delaying marriages and avoiding babies has started to spread because education and child-care problems overlap with grim prospects for the future.
Drastic plans, including the restructuring of child care centers, should be provided. If the peak-time wage system is introduced, the period of employment will be lengthened and the aging work force can be used.
Also, a comprehensive plan comprising education, welfare, labor and financial policies must be established. Aging is the looming shadow of a catastrophe, and it is already creeping near us.