Korea’s population is forecast to begin to drop from 2020 and stand at a mere 3.3 million in 2067.
Statistics Korea announced on March 28 that Korea’s total population will peak at 51.65 million this year but begin to decline by 0.02 percent (10,000 people) in 2020. This estimate is based on the assumption of a low birthrate and low life expectancy and the smallest inflow of population from the outside.
Korea’s population will decline at a faster pace after 2020 and by 2067, its total population will fall to 33.65 million, close to its total population back in 1972. According to this scenario, Korea’s birthrate is expected to fall to 0.87 child per woman this year and 0.72 child per woman in 2022.
Statistics Korea also offered a median estimate based on a slower birthrate drop. Under this scenario, Korea’s total population will begin to drop in 2029. The working-age population is forecast to decrease by 2.5 million people in 10 years from 2017 and Korea will begin to become a super aged society in 2025 where the elderly will account for 20 percent of the population. The total population is expected to peak at 59.14 million in 2028, begin to fall in 2029 and arrive at 39.29 million in 2067, which is close to the level in 1982. In terms of deaths and births, 314,000 people will die and 300,000 people will be born, respectively, signaling the start of a decline in Korea’s population in 2019.
An inflow of population into Korea from overseas will slow down the pace of decline in Korea’s total population. The median estimate scenario says that the working-age population aged 15 to 64 years accounted for 73.2 percent of Korea’s total population in 2017, but in 2067, it will account for 45.4 percent. The proportion of elderly people aged 65 or older will rise from 13.8 percent to 46.5 percent, while the percentage of under-14 children will shrink from 13.1 percent to 8.1 percent.