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BOK chief calls for measures for population aging

All News 09:20 June 01, 2017

SEOUL, June 1 (Yonhap) -- The head of South Korea's central bank called Thursday for measures to cope with population aging that could undermine growth in Asia's fourth-largest economy.

Bank of Korea (BOK) Gov. Lee Ju-yeol said South Korea is not well-prepared for its rapidly increasing older population.

Experts have expressed concerns that the aging population, coupled with a low birthrate, poses a serious threat to Asia's fourth-largest economy, as it could lead to fewer working people and increased spending on health and welfare.

Last year, the number of South Koreans over 65 came to more than 6.76 million, accounting for 13.2 percent of all people living in the country, according to the statistics office. Nations become an "aged society" if people aged over 65 years make up 14 percent or more of the population.

Statistics Korea said people aged over 65 could reach more than 12.9 million, or 24.5 percent of South Korea's population, by 2030.

"The negative effects of population aging on growth seem likely to be substantial," Lee said in an opening address at an international conference at a Seoul hotel.

"In response to this, proper policy measures need to be put in place to ease the rapid drop in spending by seniors, while we at the same time strengthen social support related to childbirth and child care support."

South Korea has been trying to raise its birthrate, though no significant progress has been made yet, as many young people delay marriage amid a prolonged economic slowdown and the high cost of bringing up kids.

South Korea's total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- stood at 1.25 in 2016, much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep South Korea's population of 51 million stable.

Lee also called on countries to intensify structural reforms to help sustain fledgling growth momentum while calling for inclusive growth meant to help more people share the benefits of economic growth.


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