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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 1)

Editorials from Korean Dailies 07:08 October 01, 2018

Happiness in old age

The latest survey from Statistics Korea about the elderly is filled with sad news.

The report shows 14.3 percent of the nation's population is 65 and older in 2018, which means Korea is now officially an "aged society." The figure is a jump from 2017 when 13.9 percent of the population was 65 and older.

The problem is more severe in provincial areas. In South Jeolla Province, 22 percent of the population is 65 and older. The government estimates that by 2060, more than 40 percent will be over 65. This calls for wide-ranging measures to ensure the welfare, health and happiness of the elderly.

One of the biggest problems facing Korea is that people are living longer, but they lack the means to support themselves properly. The employment rate among the elderly in Korea is higher than that of other OECD countries. The report shows 33.1 percent of people aged 70 to 74 are working. This is well above the OECD average of 15.2 percent.

But the problem is the poverty rate among the elderly is one of the highest among OECD members. This means many older Koreans are forced to work in low-paying jobs because of a weak public pension system. Under such circumstances, many older Koreans are barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills.

When talking about the population crisis, the elderly do not receive nearly as much attention as the lack of babies. It is more important to figure out what to do with the booming elderly population and how to keep our elderly healthy and active members of society. The happiness and health of the elderly should be the government's top priority.

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