Don’t dismiss baby boomersKorean baby boomers refer to those born between 1955 and 1963. They total 7.12 million people, making up about 15 percent of the country’s population. They grew up amid material want at a time when their parents were oblivious to birth control.
They worked during the days when the country marched along its industrialization fervor.
Many of these people have now reached retirement age. They are in their mid-50s but are already treated like they’re dinosaurs in the age of information and technology.
They may be the last generation to support their parents and yet cannot expect the same from their children.
According to a joint study by a life savings company and Seoul National University’s Institute on Aging, living costs after retirement could reach 2.11 million won ($1,890) a month.
Many are advancing their pension benefits by five years, regardless of a 30 percent penalty.
Their hardships often go unnoticed with news centered on the 8 to 9 percent unemployment rate for youth. The government and corporate sector, however, should not turn a blind eye to the plight of baby boomers.
The government a year ago launched a committee to come up with measures for the baby boomer generation, but so far has been more or less inactive.
The tripartite committee of labor, corporate management and political representatives discussed the idea of extending the retirement age, but that wouldn’t be easy considering the burden on corporate payrolls.
An extension of the retirement age would make very little difference, since there are many workers in Korea who retire before they reach retirement age.
No company can provide satisfactory retirement benefits for their employees but companies can be encouraged to provide opportunities for their aging employees to go on working - somewhere else.
Other companies would get useful labor at a cheaper price and workers would be happy to have jobs.
Some may worry that an aging workforce could prevent young people from getting jobs but if the companies assign a different task to them, there won’t be much of a problem.
The government should continue to strengthen the social safety net and welfare policies for baby boomers.