New gov’t measures to keep seniors in their jobs
Korea is the most rapidly aging society in the world, the government said yesterday.
In four years’ time, 14 percent of the population is expected to be over 65, and by 2026, 20 percent of Koreans will be seniors.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare said the cabinet yesterday passed measures to deal with the problem, including delays of retirement pensions, ways to create jobs for the elderly and delays in retirements.
The measures were a follow-up to the Health Ministry’s five-year second basic plan for low fertility and aging society implemented in 2010. The revisions were considered necessary because Korea, with one of the lowest birthrates in the world, is aging too fast. In 2000, it became an “aging society,” with more than 7 percent of its population aged 65 and over.
Many encourage the elderly to work longer.
Koreans begin receiving benefits from the National Pension Service from age 60, but that will be changed to 61 starting from 2013. Every five years, the start of the pension will be pushed back a year. By 2033, pensions will begin at 65.
The government is also reviewing raising the current average retirement age in corporations, which is 57.2, to 60. Lawmakers of both the ruling Saenuri and opposition Democratic United parties support the revision of the retirement age.
“This is the first time related government branches came to a consensus regarding the retirement age since 2004,” said Lee Jae-yong, a population policy official at the Health Ministry.
Furthermore, large corporations that provide retirement pay in lump sums will be encouraged to transfer the money to the employee’s retirement pension. The government will support small- and medium-sized corporations to provide for retirement pensions for their employees. It will also provide support for insurance for self-employed business people.
But analysts pointed out that because the new policies have been drawn up without considering the budget, some limitations may be introduced later when budget approval occurs.
Other analysts are skeptical about the wisdom of keeping seniors in jobs.
“If public and large corporations raise the retirement age, that will cut down on job opportunities for the younger generation,” said Choi Seong-hun, an official at the Ministry of Employment and Labor.
By Sarah Kim, Shin Sung-sik [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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