[EDITORIALS]Address our aging societyToday marks the 10th Senior Citizens’ Day. While welcoming their five minutes of fame, today’s elder citizens are also saddened by their worsening situation. According to the National Statistical Office, the everyday lives of our senior citizens fall little short of poverty. They rely on financial support from their children as most of them do not hold jobs. Only 31 percent receive any type of public pension.
This dark side of our aging society is only the beginning. Due to a lack of manpower, our society’s growth potential will fall along with investments and savings while the burden of pensions and medical costs rise. With the world’s most quickly aging society, Korea will have the highest proportion of senior citizens in the world by 2050.
The nation’s countermeasures, however, consist of all words and no action. The main points we need to focus on are income, health and utilizing the senior workforce. Among these, the core is to keep people at their jobs as long as possible. A possible solution is putting a wage peak system into effect. Improvements are also required for the current age-limit system. Reforms to the national pension system, one of the two major sources of income for senior citizens, are also required to sufficiently prepare for an aging society, but the current administration and ruling party are too busy developing plans to pull in new votes for them to focus on the issue at hand.
The government released a basic framework for dealing with our low birth rate and aging society in June. But after receiving criticism for leaving out plans on how to fund the 32 trillion won ($33.8 billion) budget, there have been no further updates. From the original plan, the government must select applicable measures and come up with an improved plan.
Take a look at Japan, which is continuously coming up with measures like enabling persons aged 65 and above to apply for unemployment insurance and making it an obligation to employ workers until age 70.
The current administration should improve the current preservation policy for a wage peak system that kicks in only when income falls, and support companies that extend the age limit for workers and re-employ workers that have passed that limit. Companies must realize that without utilizing senior workers, it will become more difficult to survive. They must take into consideration that 80 percent of Japanese firms are operating employment-expansion policies, such as the wage-peak system.