Population keeps getting older

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Population keeps getting older

Korea keeps getting older.

According to statistics released by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety on Monday, the largest age group in the Korean population is people in their 50s.

And while the number of people 65 years or older is growing, the population aged 14 or younger is shrinking.

Last year, the total number of Koreans amounted to 51.8 million. This is a an increase of 47,515 or only 0.1 percent compared to 2017.

The number of people in their 50s was the largest at 8.62 million, which was a 1.5 percent increase compared to the previous year, or 125,680 more. People in their 50s accounted for 16.6 percent of the total population. People in their 40s trailed behind at 8.49 million, or 16.4 percent, and those in their 30s numbered 7.27 million, or 14 percent.

People in their 20s accounted for 13.2 percent at 6.82 million and those in their 60s totaled 5.95 million, or 11.5 percent.

Koreans aged 14 or younger numbered 6.63 million and accounted for 12.8 percent of the population. That represented a 2.3 percent drop from the previous year, or 157,355 fewer.

On the flip side, the number of people aged 65 or older, who accounted for 14.8 percent of the total population, grew 4 percent or nearly 300,000 more than in 2017.

Since 2008, the ratio of Koreans aged 14 or younger has been shrinking while that of Koreans aged 65 or older has been growing. In 2016, the ratio of people aged 65 or older exceeded that for people aged 14 or younger and the gap has been widening since.

In 2016, seniors accounted for 13.5 percent of the total population whereas youngsters accounted for 13.4 percent, a 0.1 percentage point difference. In 2017, that widened to 1.1 percentage points and last year to 2 percentage points.

“While the overall population hasn’t shrunk, the ratio of senior citizens has been widening its gap against those 14 or younger,” said a ministry official.

Last month, the Bank of Korea governor expressed concerns over the rapid growth of the older population and the impact it might have on the Korean economy.

“The more I look at data showing the aging population, the more fear I feel,” BOK Gov. Lee Ju-yeol said. “We can only maintain our long-term growth when we quickly raise industries that could raise our nation’s growth.”

The Ministry of the Interior and Safety report showed that there were 93,801 more women than men in Korea and women accounted for 50.1 percent of the total population.

Additionally while six cities and provinces - Gyeonggi, Sejong, Jeju, South Chungcheong, Incheon and North Chungcheong, saw an influx of people, 11 cities including Seoul and Busan saw net outflows.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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