Seoul’s elderly population has surpassed its young people for the first time ever.
The shift occurred officially in April, when the number of people over the age of 65 was recorded at 1,237,181, which is 4,987 more than the 1,232,194 people under the age of 15 who reside in the city.
This marks the first time that the aging index, which measures the elderly population (people over 65) against the population under 15 years old, has recorded a number over 100, reaching 100.4. In other words, the number of people entering the work force going forward will now be outnumbered by the number of retired people who will rely on society to look after them.
In comparison, Seoul’s aging index in 2003 was recorded at only 36.2, lower than the national average of 41.3. However, as Korea’s birth rates have continually failed to keep pace with its aging population, both values have skyrocketed over the past 12 years with Seoul’s new index value of 100.4 overtaking the national average of 92.2.
Seoul’s aging population has now made it a ‘middle-aged’ city, with the average age of a Seoul citizen now 40.2 years old. According to a representative of the Seoul City Government, “While Seoul’s birth rate has fallen the most nationwide, its elderly population grows annually by about 60,000 people. If this trend continues, the percentage of elderly in the city will surpass 14 percent by 2018.”