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Korea's population aging faster than advanced nations

SEOUL, Sept. 29 — More than one out of 10 people in South Korea were aged 65 or older last year, data showed Thursday, indicating the nation is aging at a faster pace than other major advanced nations.

According to the data provided by Statistics Korea, the number of people in the senior age group came to 5.36 million last year, accounting for 11 percent of the nation's total population. The ratio is up from the previous year's 10.7 percent and much higher than 7.2 percent tallied in 2000.

The statistics agency expects the ratio to jump to 14.3 percent by the end of 2018 and rise further to 20 percent in 2026.

"The population is aging at a much faster pace in Korea than other advanced nations such as the United States and France," the agency said. "It will take only eight years for the senior citizen ratio to rise from 14 percent to 20 percent."

France is expected to reach the same ratio after 39 years. For the U.S. and Germany, the corresponding figures stand at 21 years and 37 years, respectively, the data showed.

The latest forecast comes as South Korea is fast becoming an aged society, in which more than 14 percent of the population is 65 or older. Korea became an aging society in 2000, when the ratio exceeded 7 percent.

The population aging coupled with low birth rates poses a serious threat to the nation's economy as it could put a drain on its coffers by increasing expenses on health and welfare for senior citizens.

As of 2010, an average of 6.6 people from the working population aged 15-64 has to support one senior citizen. In 2030, the number will fall to three, increasing the burden on the working population in supporting older people, the statistics agency said.

Meanwhile, as the life expectancy increases and economy conditions remain tough, many senior citizens want to work even after retirement, the data showed.

Of those aged 55-79, 58.5 percent said that they want to land a job in the future. More than half of them said that the reason for job-seeking is that they wish to support their families, according to the data. (PNA/VNS)

DCT/ebp

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