Korea’s Aging Population: Insights from 2023 Statistics

The Korean Statistics Bureau, under the supervision of Park Soon-ok from the Social Statistics Planning Department, has released the latest statistics on the elderly population in the country. Here are key highlights from the 2023 Elderly Statistics:

Special Feature: Life and Consciousness of Elderly Workers

  • In 2022, the employment rate for individuals aged 65 and above reached 36.2%, marking a significant 6.1 percentage point increase over the past decade. Among OECD member countries, Korea boasts the highest employment rate for this age group.
  • Elderly workers in 2022 reported better perceived health conditions compared to non-working counterparts, and they experienced lower levels of stress in daily life.
  • Financially, in 2021, 93.0% of elderly workers and their spouses bore the burden of securing their livelihoods. Satisfaction levels were reported at 20.7% for income and 13.9% for the overall quality of life.
  • Looking ahead, 81.9% of working elderly individuals expressed no desire for future cohabitation with their children, and 68.1% are actively preparing for retirement.

I. Population and Household:

  • The elderly population aged 65 and above in 2023 constitutes 18.4% of the total population, with a projected increase to 20.6% by 2025, marking Korea’s entry into the ultra-aged society.
  • The gender distribution reveals that the proportion of elderly women (20.6%) surpasses that of men (16.2%) by 4.4 percentage points.

II. Health:

  • In 2021, life expectancy for those aged 65 was 21.6 years (19.3 for men and 23.7 for women), exceeding the OECD averages by 1.5 and 2.5 years, respectively.
  • Per capita medical expenses for the elderly in 2021 increased by KRW 21.5 thousand, reaching KRW 497.4 thousand, while personal out-of-pocket expenses rose by KRW 6.2 thousand to KRW 116.8 thousand.

III. Income Security:

  • In 2022, the net asset value of households with individuals aged 65 and above increased by KRW 43.16 million compared to the previous year, reaching KRW 453.64 million.
  • The relative poverty rate for those over 66 years old decreased to 39.3% in 2021, a 1.1 percentage point reduction from the previous year. The Gini coefficient stood at 0.379, and the income quintile ratio was 6.92.

IV. Social Participation and Relations:

  • In 2022, 17.6% of elderly individuals aged 65 to 79 participated in lifelong education, showing a 1.6 percentage point decrease from the previous year.
  • Elderly individuals were perceived as the group most affected by human rights violations or discrimination by 10.4% of adults aged 19 and above, second only to “people with disabilities” (18.9%).

V. Living Environment:

  • In 2022, the pedestrian traffic accident mortality rate for individuals aged 65 and above was 6.2 per 100,000, showing a decrease of 0.8 from the previous year. However, the injury rate increased by 1.2 to 111.1.
  • The accident occurrence rate for elderly drivers in 2022 increased by 1.9 percentage points to 17.6%, with mortality and injury rates of 26.9% and 17.5%, respectively.

VI. Subjective Well-being:

  • In 2022, 34.3% of elderly individuals aged 65 were satisfied with their current lives, marking a 9.3 percentage point increase from the previous year.
  • Satisfaction with social and economic achievements increased by 7.6 percentage points to 31.2% among those aged 65 and above.