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Koreans aged 65 and older exceed under-15 population

Posted May. 06, 2017 08:05,   

Updated May. 06, 2017 08:24


May 5, this year became the first Children’s Day when the population of senior citizens aged 65 and older exceeded children’s population.

According to the Interior Ministry’s population statistics of registered residents, people aged 65 and older (7,103,678) outnumbered people aged 0 to 14 (6,873,722) by 229,956 as of end-March. It is the first time that the figures have been reversed since 2008 the ministry started managing statistics of registered residents by using the current system in 2008.

In May last year, the under-15 population at 6,986,589 outnumbered by 115,199 the population of people aged 65 and older at 6,871,390. During the 10-month period, the number of people under 15 declined 112,867, while that of people aged 65 and older increased 232,288. The sizes of the two populations switched in November last year. As the number of newborns is smaller than the number of new senior citizens, Korea has failed to find a viable solution to the ultralow fertility rate.

There are no clear-cut guidelines that define children and the elderly. However, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development classifies people below 15 as children and people aged 65 and older as senior citizens based on working age population.

The United Nations categorizes a country with a population aged 65 and older exceeding 7 percent as an aging society and a country with the figure exceeding 14 percent as an aged society, and that exceeding 20 percent as a super-aged society. Korea is expected to become an aged society with the portion of its elderly population set to hit 14.3 percent in 2018. Back in 2008, the under-15 population relative to the entire population was 17.2 percent, and the population of people aged 65 and older was 10.2 percent. As of end-March this year, however, the under-15 population was 13.3 percent, and the population of people aged 65 and older came to 13.7 percent.

Jie-Hyun Roh isityou@donga.com