All Things Korean; Aging Population on the Horizon

Article excerpt

Professor Pool of Population Studies Department at Waikato University, New Zealand, said that the number of retired people would rise rapidly in 2010 when the baby boomers turn 65, and ``...by 2030 New Zealand might well have one retiree to every two workers.'' At a lecture series to commemorate the new millennium at Auckland University, he raised the issue of government policies and strategies to deal with the aging population, and argued that, ``we should be looking at people units, not dollar units.'' by criticizing the government policy on economic grounds. Considering that the new workforce of 2010 are in school now and that these same people will be retiring by year 2055, the issue of jobs and unemployment will indeed be on-going economic and social problems, he said.

The question of creating new jobs and training a new workforce for the changing work environment is the challenge facing the government, regardless of political pursuance. Unemployment and employment issues will never disappear from the policy scene, and fierce competition to find a job and to keep it will add continuing pressure to the job market. Without job security over the horizon and due to globalization across the nations, the government must acknowledge ``the increasing pressures from the baby-boomers as they reach their retirement around 2010.'' By the year 2030, about 30 percent of our population will be over 65, and this means ``increased health and welfare costs,'' for this group, as Don Edgar pointed out in his column. With some drastic and on-going reforms of the economic paradigm in Korea since 1997, a large proportion of the population has been affected by the shift of government policies and programs. The problems encountered by the government and society, in general, are not simply the solving unemployment caused by the restructuring programs but the consequences it will have on family, self-esteem, and the waste of human resources in the older age groups.

The unemployment problem now extends to both the young and the aging population, and society's perception of ``old age'' must be changed to ensure t e value of life-long experience and training in the workforce. It is the responsibility of the government and society to care for older people since this is a problem which will be compounding from the year 2010 onwards.

The Korean government, with the unprecedented challenge of shaping the nation's economy, must now set up a task force to deal with the nation's aging population in conjunction with the national program of education, training and employment. The fundamental approach is to financially support the training and retraining programs with a sustained basis of viable funding sources. An extensive and thorough search for broadening the nation's tax base must be implemented. Apart from the complete overhaul of progressive income tax, there is a limit to increasing the income tax burden of the average Korean. …