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“Korea Becomes Oldest Country in 50 Years”

Posted January. 09, 2005 22:48,   


“The biggest social dilemma that advanced countries are facing these days is that people do live longer but do not want to work more. If this trend continues, those countries will not be able to sustain themselves,” said an OECD report entitled “Aging and employment policies.”

The whole world is in the midst of aging, an unprecedented “calamity.” “The dream of extending life spans” causes a “lack of population, which supports the elderly,” which requires a massive overhaul within each country such as the re-establishment of national systems themselves.

Korea is no exception. The pace of Korea’s aging is almost the same as that of its economic growth over the last five decades.

The OECD recently completed a report about the labor problem of senior citizens in the rapidly aging country, entitled “Aging and employment policies: Korea,” with the advice of the Korea Labor Institute and experts within and without.

The 140-page report that this newspaper exclusively obtained presents a comprehensive diagnosis of the aging of Korean society, including the state of aging, employment problems of the elderly, pensions, and the working environment of the elderly.

The report warns that Korea will be the oldest OECD member in 50 years although it used to be the youngest, and that the shocks from economic growth and aging will defy imagination in two or three decades when the absolute numbers of the working population shrink.

It also advised that the decisive way to offset the shocks from ageing is to increase the economic participation rate of senior citizens. That means the only alternative to an aged society is to allow the elderly to work on their own.

The report which Mark Keese, senior researcher of OECD, wrote on behalf of the organization is one of the reports on ageing of 21 OECD members including Korea.

The OECD completed its survey that started in 2002 of 12 countries including Korea, the U.K. and Japan. After completing reports on the other nine member countries within this year, the organization will hold a policy meeting based on the report in October in Brussels, Belgium, with the participation of labor-related ministers of member nations.