The debt crisis now facing policymakers is the most serious challenge facing the global economy in years. While some of this debt burden is a recent response to the global financial crisis of 2008, much of it is structural, arising from the changing demographics of industrial society, and most of all, from the massive growth in welfare spending.
Korea is undergoing many of the same changes as its industrialized peers, but even more rapidly. Over the past few decades, Koreans have seen highly visible changes in everything from the consumer goods they can buy to the social values they can practice. Less visibly but no less importantly, Koreans now live longer than ever. Combined with shifts in household life that have altered the traditional rules of marriage and child rearing, Korea is now set to become a society with fewer and fewer children and more and more elderly. In short, Korea is becoming an aging society.
Korea, of course, is not alone in this, and shares this destiny both with its neighbors in Asia, and with the larger industrialized world. China's strict one child policy, for example, has put it on course for a future where a single child has to …