SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA, September 19, 2019 – The research conducted by the Seoul Metropolitan Government indicates that the total population of Seoul was 10,049,607 as of the end of 2018. The number of people aged 65 or older (hereinafter “senior citizens”) was 1,410,000, accounting for 14.4 percent of the total population, which means the city became the “aged society” for the first time in its history.
According to the UN standards, a society where senior citizens take up more than 14 percent of the entire population is defined as the “aged society,” while 20 percent or more the “super-aged society.” Seoul became the “aging society” with 7 percent of senior citizens in its population already in 2005. Given the increasing trends of senior population, Seoul is expected to become the “super-aged society” in 2026.
※ The number of citizens registered in Seoul as of the end of 2018 was 10,049,607: 9,765,623 Koreans,
and 283,984 foreigners.
While the total population and locals registered in Seoul has been constantly decreasing since 2010, the number of people from other countries living in Seoul jumped six times or more over the last 23 years to 284,000 in 2018 from 45,000 in 1995. Given the net out-migration (outgoing people minus incoming people) was more than 80,000 people on average over the last three years, the population of Seoul is expected to be below 10 million by the end of this year or the first half of next year. According to the Statistics Korea, the total population of Korea and that of the metropolitan areas including Seoul are estimated to grow till 2028 and 2032, respectively.
These figures are from the research conducted for the first time upon the city’s population trends and their impact on its citizens. The research was carried out online using resident registration information in Seoul and responses from 1,000 citizens.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government said that the city became the aged society since late last year and the dependency ratio, a measure of economic burden upon working age population aged 15 to 64, continued to increase. This is because senior citizens are increasing while working-age population decreasing. Over the recent three years, the proportion of seniors aged 65 or older rose 0.6 percentage point every year on average whereas that of the youth aged 14 or younger dropped 0.3 percentage point on average. The senior population started exceeding the youth population in 2014 and the gap is growing.
The natural increase (difference between the numbers of births and deaths in a population) in Seoul continues to decline (145,000 people in 1992 to 13,000 in 2018) as the births are rapidly dropping and deaths are slightly rising. The research showed that the biggest reason behind the drop in Seoul population is people moving to the adjacent Gyeonggido Province. In 2018, approximately 460,000 people moved to Seoul while 570,000 out of it, which makes the net out-migration 110,000. The biggest out-migration was done to Gyeonggido Province (135,216 people) whereas the largest in-migration was from Gyeongsangdo Province, southeast part of Korea (25,321 people).
When asked about the effect of the population decrease, 39.6 percent of the 1,000 respondents answered, “no effect,” while 37.9 percent and 22.5 percent responded “negative effect” and “positive effect,” respectively. Respondents in their 40s tend to be more negative whereas more people in their 50s answered “negative effect” or “no effect” and those in 60s responded more “no effects.” Citizens in their 20s and 30s answered “positive effect” more than other generations. Respondents said the positively affected areas would be natural environment (44.7%), housing (43.1%), transportation (37.9%) and education (30%). On the other hand, society (60.9%), welfare (59.4%), national defense (47.5%) and economy (47%) were considered as areas negatively affected by the constant drop in population. Besides, more people in their 40s responded negative effect on seven areas out of ten (i.e., natural environment, housing, transportation, education, culture, economy and society) than other generations.
Meanwhile, the Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to select one topic closely related to the lives of citizens every month and provide in-depth and objective analysis for the public based on its big administrative data.
Director-General Lee Won-Mok at the Smart City Policy Bureau of the Seoul Metropolitan Government said, “The research shows that Seoul became the aged society as of the end of 2018 and its population is expected to drop below 10 million people later this year or early next year.” He added, “As administrative needs would rapidly change as a result of the population trends, we plan to analyze the data more closely and use them as foundation for policy making.”