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Demographics of South Korea - statistics & facts

The demographic structure of South Korea has undergone major changes in the last few decades. After the Korean War (1950-1953), the population grew rapidly until the 1990s, but growth has slowed substantially in recent years. In 2020, South Korea’s population amounted to around 51.78 million. That year, South Korea saw a population decline for the first time in the country's history, with the number of deaths exceeding the number of births.

Low birth rate and aging population

Falling birth rates and an aging population are some of the biggest problems facing South Korea. Over the years, the life expectancy of South Koreans has increased from less than 80 to more than 83 years, while the fertility rate dropped to the lowest level in the world in 2020. The total birth rate fell to 0.84 births per woman that year. At the same time, the share of older people in the country continues to rise. South Korea is expected to become a “super-aged” society in 2025, with people aged 65 years and older accounting for more than 20 percent of the total population.

Changing family structures

The family structure in South Korea has also changed in recent decades. Forty years ago, the average household size was more than four people, while today it is only 2.3 people. Single households account for the largest share of all households, mainly due to the increasing number of young people postponing marriage and choosing to live alone. Difficulties returning to work after childbirth or simply the view that marriage is no longer a necessity but an option, are among the many reasons why women decide to marry later or not at all. The change in societal perception of marriage is particularly noteworthy in a country that traditionally places great importance on marriage and family.

Tackling demographic challenges

Demographic changes associated with an aging and shrinking population may ultimately affect all areas of the country's economy, society, and healthcare system. Against this backdrop, South Korea has implemented a number of policies in the last years to raise birth rates, but they have not had the desired effect. An active and effective response to these challenges will continue to play an important role for South Korea in the future.

Interesting statistics

In the following 6 chapters, you will quickly find the 41 most important statistics relating to "Demographics of South Korea".

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