SEOUL, July 29 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea, the country with the highest poverty and suicide rates of seniors among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states, is struggling to improve the lives of senior citizens.
A report from Statistics Korea released on Tuesday shows a gloomy forecast for older Koreans.
Among 14.8 million people aged between 55 and 79, only 48.4 percent (7.14 million) have been receiving public or private pensions, for an average amount of 640,000 won (US$554) per month.
The problem is there are still 7.6 million people who aren’t getting any pension at all.
Pensioners, too, are facing problems as their monthly payout covers a mere 20 percent of what they used to earn, and is not enough to cover their living expenses.
The Korea Economic Research Institute reported that South Korea’s poverty rate among seniors reached 43.4 percent as of 2018, which was three times higher than the OECD average (14.8 percent).
Early retirement from a job worked for many years also adds heavy pressure on seniors in sustaining their lives.
Senior Koreans left their longest-working jobs at an average age of 49.3. There were 5.2 million people who left their jobs at this age.
This means that seniors without savings or sufficient pensions have to work in order to cover their living expenses.
The problem, however, is that creating jobs or maintaining welfare systems for seniors isn’t easy.
The Ministry of Economy and Finance reported last September that, if the current situation continues, the National Pension Service will start facing a deficit in 2041, and run out of funds by 2056, due to demographic shifts and a rapidly aging population.
H. M. Kang (firstname.lastname@example.org)