Korea rapidly approaching 'super-aged society'
To earn the first label, 14 percent of the population must be seniors, which Korea reached in 2017. To earn the second, more than 20 percent must be 65 or older -- which Korea should reach in 2025, with 20.3 percent over that threshold.
According to Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of seniors is not as alarming as the percentage of them living alone.
The statistics agency painted a portrait of economically vulnerable senior citizens in worse health conditions than those who live with families.
Among 4.73 million households with people over 64 last year, seniors living alone accounted for 1.66 million, or 35.1 percent.
The statistics agency said that ratio has been steadily increasing since 2015.
Five years ago, senior citizens living alone accounted for 32.9 percent.
People over the age of 69 accounted for 72.4 percent of those living alone.
The number of senior citizens living alone is expected to double to 3.35 million by 2037.
Some 44.6 percent of the seniors living alone said they lived on their own means, while 24.3 percent lived on allowances from their children or relatives, and 31.1 percent lived on government subsidies or financial support from social organizations.
Some 28 percent or 470,600 had jobs. That’s 43,000 more than in 2019, a 10 percent increase. Among single seniors, 48.2 percent in their 70s had jobs, followed by 34.3 percent for those between the ages of 65 and 69.
More seniors were working than before. Some 67 percent said they were not financially prepared for life after retirement.
Fewer than 30 percent of senior women living alone said that they were financially prepared for life after retirement, and for men that figure was 43.8 percent.
Even those who were prepared many relied on the national pension system. Some 36 percent of those living alone rely on monthly national pension payments. Some 31.2 percent invested in savings while 11.8 percent invested in real estate that they rent out .
Some 17 percent of seniors living alone said they were healthy, lower than the 24.3 percent of seniors living with families.
While nearly 50 percent of those living alone said that their health was bad, only 38.4 percent of all seniors surveyed made that claim.
In 2019, average medical expenses for people over 64 -- even with health insurance -- was nearly 4.8 million won ($4,000). That’s 7 percent or 309,000 won more than the previous year.
The life expectancy for people over 64 was an additional 21.3 years as of 2019, six months longer than in 2018.
Women were expected to live 23.4 years longer after reaching 65, and men 19.1 years.
The numbers were higher than the OECD’s average of 21.6 years for women and 18.3 for men.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [email@example.com]