SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea was ranked the worst country at preparing policies to meet challenges posed by aging, a state-run think tank said Tuesday, in the latest wakeup call that the Asian country needs to take action to deal with its rapidly aging population.
South Korea is fast becoming an aged society, in which more than 14 percent of the population is 65 or older. Korea became an aging society in 2000, when the ratio exceeded 7 percent.
By 2050, 39 percent of the South Korean population is expected to be over 60, compared with the current level of 17 percent, according to data.
Still, South Korea was ranked the bottom out of 22 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the average aging preparedness index between 2007 and 2009, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs said in a report.
Ireland, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden were ranked the top five countries that are well-prepared for aging, according to the institute.
The aging preparedness index took into account income, health-care costs, employment, social support and sustainability, and the institute compared the index among only 22 out of 34 member states of the OECD. Data on the 12 other member states were not available.
South Korea was ranked the bottom in terms of income and social support while it placed 18th and 15th in terms of health-care cost and sustainability, respectively, according to the institute.
South Korea took the seventh place in terms of employment, the report said.
In a separate local survey, South Korea's aging preparedness index stood at 28.9 as of 2009, down from 30.1 in 1990, according to the institute.
Chung Hong-won, a research fellow of the institute, called for efforts to make up for shortfalls in old people's income and reduce their poverty, noting their quality of life has worsened in recent years.
Meanwhile, the 2010 Global Aging Preparedness (GAP) Index, a separate index developed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, showed that South Korea was ranked 12th out of 20 countries in terms of the fiscal sustainability index.
On the fiscal side, the GAP Index looked at projections of public old-age benefit spending, including both pensions and health benefits, according to a report posted on the Web site of the Washington-based think tank.
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