SEOUL, March 22 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s seniors outnumbered the youth population last year for the first time in the country’s history, government data has revealed.
There are now more elderly people than young people in South Korea, where the working age population has begun to decline, according to new census data from Statistics Korea released on Thursday.
The demographics of Asia’s fourth largest economy are expected to go through some drastic changes over the next few decades.
Here are three key takeaways from the population index:
South Koreans over 60 for the first time overtook children younger than 14 years of age, with the two groups accounting for 13.8 percent and 13.1 percent of the population, respectively.
The working age population is on a decline after peaking at 73.4 percent in 2016, while the population growth rate will begin to drop from 2032.
“Due to low birthrates and advanced medical technology, the over-60 population will continue to grow, with the country’s demographics chart shifting from looking bottom heavy in the 1960s, middle-heavy this year, to top heavy by 2060,” said Lee Jae-won, a senior official at Statistics Korea.
The country’s median age stood at 42 last year, after surpassing 40 in 2014. The figure is expected to shoot up to over 50 by 2033.
Life expectancy on the rise
The nation’s life expectancy rose to 82.4 years as of 2016.
The figure rose by 4.2 years since 2005, with South Korean women expected to live for 85.4 years on average, while the figure for men stood at 79.3 years.
Life expectancy has gradually improved for both men and women in South Korea since the 1970s when people were expected to live until around 63 on average. The gap between both sexes has also shrunk.
In the meantime, the year-on-year number of adults who exercise dropped, while obesity rates went up.
Shifting perception of marriage
Over half of South Korean women no longer see marriage as a must, and some even think of it as something to avoid.
Nearly 47 percent of women are fine with either getting married or not, while 3.8 percent think marriage should be avoided.
Mothers give birth to their first child at the age of 31.4 on average.
Among people aged over 13, 56.5 percent were satisfied with their relationship with family in 2016, up 1.3 percent from two years ago.
When broken down in detail, men were happier in their relationship with their wife than vice versa, while women fared slightly better when it came to relationships with children.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)