Nearly a third of Koreans to be over 65 in 2040: report

SEJONG, June 20 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's population is getting older at a fast clip with its median age likely to rise sharply amid enhanced medical services and people's increased interest in health, a report showed Thursday.

According to the report by Statistics Korea, the number of people aged 65 or older will grow to 24.3 percent in 2030, up from 11.8 percent tallied in 2012. The ratio is expected to rise further to 32.3 percent in 2040.

Those forecast figures would be much higher than the ratio of senior citizens in 1980 when it stood at 3.8 percent, the report showed.

The median age of South Korean people will also rise sharply over the cited period. The report forecast that the median age will increase to 49.7 in 2040, compared with 38.9 in 2012.

The report comes as 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.

The aging population coupled with a low birthrate poses a serious threat to the nation's economy as it could put a drain on finances by increasing expenses on health and welfare for senior citizens.

The report is intended to provide a broad snapshot of the country's present and future social landscapes, the agency explained.

Touching on education, in particular, the report said that households' monthly spending on private education grew 1.7 percent on-year to 236,000 won in 2012.

Nearly 70 percent of households sent their children for private education last year, but the private education participation ratio continued their recent downward trend, according to the report.

The report also said that the number of long-term foreign residents here came to 932,983 in 2012, marking about a four-fold rise from 210,249 tallied in 2000.

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