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[ED] Definition of elderly

Careful approach needed for raising current senior age

As Korea is aging rapidly, people's perception about who is elderly is changing. A survey by the DongA Ilbo published earlier this week said that 48 percent of respondents said one must be over 70 to be considered a senior citizen.

Another survey showed that 78.3 percent of the elderly also feel that 70 should be the standard age to be called elderly. Currently, the minimum age for pensions and other benefits is 65. The Korean Senior Citizens Association has proposed that the "official senior age" be gradually raised to 70 over the next 20 years, raising it by one year every four years.

Since Korea is on the threshold of becoming an aged society, it is inevitable to start discussing the need to adjust the age. Government data last month showed that almost 14 percent of the nation's population is 65 or older. Korea is aging so fast that by 2065, more than 42 percent of the population will be composed of senior citizens, which is the highest rate of the elderly among OECD countries.

A major dilemma for policymakers is how to expand policies to accommodate the elderly with limited resources. A recent dispute over the eligible age for senior citizens' free subway passes is just one of many complex issues Korea faces due to the swiftly aging population. Subway operators in major cities including Seoul, Busan and Daegu announced Monday they will jointly file a constitutional petition to get government assistance for their losses owing to the free rides of those over 65. The subway operators are complaining that with the aging population, the portion of those taking free subway rides is increasing, but the government has not been responsive to their requests for financial support. Subway operators have also called for raising the age limit.

But raising this should be approached with caution and a focus on how to advance the quality of life of the elderly. The key to this is creating more job opportunities. The poverty rate among people over 65 is the highest among OECD countries.

The retirement age has been extended to 60, but for many it is hard to keep working until they reach this age. If the minimum pension age were to be raised to 70, then there is the question of how to support oneself until they reach pension age. Unlike Japan, which has the world's highest proportion of people aged 65 or older, it is difficult for people after retirement to find new jobs. Raising the age limit must be preceded by policies to keep older people working.


Policymakers should study what Japan, which is also undergoing discussions to change the elderly age, has been doing to assist its senior citizens and raise their quality of life.

Careful approach needed for raising current senior age

As Korea is aging rapidly, people's perception about who is elderly is changing. A survey by the DongA Ilbo published earlier this week said that 48 percent of respondents said one must be over 70 to be considered a senior citizen.

Another survey showed that 78.3 percent of the elderly also feel that 70 should be the standard age to be called elderly. Currently, the minimum age for pensions and other benefits is 65. The Korean Senior Citizens Association has proposed that the "official senior age" be gradually raised to 70 over the next 20 years, raising it by one year every four years.

Since Korea is on the threshold of becoming an aged society, it is inevitable to start discussing the need to adjust the age. Government data last month showed that almost 14 percent of the nation's population is 65 or older. Korea is aging so fast that by 2065, more than 42 percent of the population will be composed of senior citizens, which is the highest rate of the elderly among OECD countries.

A major dilemma for policymakers is how to expand policies to accommodate the elderly with limited resources. A recent dispute over the eligible age for senior citizens' free subway passes is just one of many complex issues Korea faces due to the swiftly aging population. Subway operators in major cities including Seoul, Busan and Daegu announced Monday they will jointly file a constitutional petition to get government assistance for their losses owing to the free rides of those over 65. The subway operators are complaining that with the aging population, the portion of those taking free subway rides is increasing, but the government has not been responsive to their requests for financial support. Subway operators have also called for raising the age limit.

But raising this should be approached with caution and a focus on how to advance the quality of life of the elderly. The key to this is creating more job opportunities. The poverty rate among people over 65 is the highest among OECD countries.

The retirement age has been extended to 60, but for many it is hard to keep working until they reach this age. If the minimum pension age were to be raised to 70, then there is the question of how to support oneself until they reach pension age. Unlike Japan, which has the world's highest proportion of people aged 65 or older, it is difficult for people after retirement to find new jobs. Raising the age limit must be preceded by policies to keep older people working.


Policymakers should study what Japan, which is also undergoing discussions to change the elderly age, has been doing to assist its senior citizens and raise their quality of life.



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