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Korea Can Delay Population Drop by 12 Years: Gov`t

Posted September. 21, 2010 11:32,   


Korea, with one of the world`s lowest birth rates, can delay the tipping point where its population begins to drop by at least 12 years from 2019 to 2031 if the rate is kept at the average of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The government said Monday that this prediction is based on the population estimate if Korea sees a turnaround in the fertility rate under the second basic plan on tackling the low birth rate and rapidly aging society.

According to its simulation, if the total fertility rate (1.15 last year) by 2015 rises to 1.35, the average of low birth rate countries in the OECD, Korea can maintain growth trends by 2021. If the birth rate reaches 1.7, the OECD average, the time of the population decrease will be delayed to 2030 or later.

If Korea`s total fertility rate is maintained at 1.15, the population will peak at 49.3 million in 2018 and start dropping from 2019. The rate refers to the average number of children born to a woman over her productive period (ages 15 to 49). Korea needs a rate of 2.1 to sustain its population.

A rise or drop of the birth rate decides the ratio of the elderly to the total population and elderly dependency ratio (the number of aged people age 65 or more per 100 people aged between 15 and 64). The two ratios are related to national financial status and growth potential.

If the ratio of the elderly who are 65 or older to the total population is maintained at 1.15, the ratio will rise up to 39.2 percent in 2050, but if Korea`s birth rate recovers to the OECD`s average birth rate of 1.7, the figure drops to 34.5 percent.

The elderly dependency ratio will show no big difference until 2026 but a difference will grow visible after 2030. If the fertility rate stays at 1.15, the ratio soars to 56.9 percent in 2040 and 73.8 percent in 2050. If it rises to 1.7, the ratio drops to 53.4 percent in 2040 and 63.9 percent in 2050.

Though the birth rate is expected to bounce back to a certain degree, aging is inevitable as the economically productive population (ages 15-64) will peak in 2016 since the low birth rate has been here for a while. If the birth rate is maintained at 1.15, the average age of the economically productive population (38.7 years in 2008) increases to 42.7 in 2030 and 43.7 in 2050. If the birth rate rises to 1.7, the average age of the economically productive population will be 42.5 in 2030 and 41.1 in 2050.