Low Birth Rates, Aging Population Could Make South Korea World's Oldest Country By 2045

Japan is not the only nation in Asia suffering from a low population of newborn babies.

Because of low birth rates and a rapidly aging population, South Korea may inevitably become the world's oldest country in 30 years.

What's more, unless the population issue is resolved, the country's inhabitants may become extinct by 2750.

Based on data from the Macquarie Securities Group, the proportion of people aged 40 years old and younger plummeted to 48.1 percent in 2015 compared to 69.4 percent in 1995.

This is expected to decline even further by 2050 as the country's life expectancy continues to rise.

Now, people 65 years old and older account for about seven percent of South Korea's population. In 2026, those over 65 years of age will comprise one-fifth of the country's population.

According to a report, one cause of the population imbalance is the lack of interest of young, working-age South Koreans in procreation.

As the country rose from being one of the poorest into one of the wealthiest, South Korea developed one of the most extreme work cultures in the world.

Apparently, Koreans' work hours is the third longest among the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, which means time spent at home is reduced.

Another issue is that South Korean women are torn between focusing on their career and having children.

Statistics show that women in South Korea only earn 65 percent of what men earn. A survey in 2012 found that young girls aspire having high-status careers more than young boys do.

Many South Korean women in their 20s are more active in the workforce compared to men, but they drop out of the labor force in their 30s. When they return to work in their 40s, women tend to get less competitive jobs.

Women in South Korea spend five times as long at home taking care of children than men do.

"There are not enough modern men for the newly educated women to marry," said economist Jisoo Hwang.

Meanwhile, the Macquarie report said Japan is also facing a population imbalance issue similar to that of South Korea.

There may be a positive side to it, the report said. Many people in Japan work past their retirement age and become big spenders who help boost the economy.

"The Asian market will walk a path to either progress or retrogression over the next 20 years depending on its actions now," concluded Macquarie Research head Hwang Chan-young.

Photo: Republic of Korea | Flickr

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