Analysis of Demographic Changes and Social Security Policies
Since the end of August 2017, Korea has joined the ranks of aged societies in which seniors aged 65 and older represent at least 14% of the entire population. Changes in the demographic structure due to causes such as low birth rates and extended life expectancy lead to aging populations, and this has become a trend in most countries. However, because the pace of aging in Korea is 4 times higher than the average rate of OECD member countries (pace of aging between 1993 and 2013: Korea: 4.06%, OECD: 1.19%) it is more important for Korea to pursue institutional efforts and policy responses to absorb the shock effectively.
Since 2006, the government has been pursuing measures to address the issue of an aged society under the Framework Act on Low Birth Rates and Aged Society. Meaningful achievements have been made through relevant policies such as the basic pension system, long-term care insurance for seniors, and jobs for the middle-aged. Nevertheless, as of 2014, the elderly poverty rate in Korea is 4 times higher than the OECD average (12.6%) at 49.6% and its elderly suicide rate is 55.5 per 100 thousand people, 3 times higher than the OECD average (18.8 people.) Such indicators raise concerns about the social safety net for the elderly while suggesting the need to reexamine previous government measures on ageing demographics.
NABO analyzed the social safety net measures for ageing societies under categories such as income, health, jobs, social participation and leisure for each of the four hardships (苦) of later life as stipulated in the Act on Supporting Preparation for Later Life—poverty, disease, idleness and loneliness. Book 1 provides an overview of the background of selecting the issues, changes in the policy environment, as well as trends in public social welfare expenditures. Books 2 to 5 provide an analysis of measures for elderly income guarantees, elderly health management and care, expanding the foundation of middle-aged and elderly labor as well as social participation and leisure activities for seniors.
According to the analyses, the policy direction of the social safety net for the elderly needs to be reviewed in line with lifelong social safety nets. Also, policies need to be more meticulously developed and pursued, such as by categorizing the eligible beneficiaries into early and late-stage seniors. Furthermore, ways to boost the effectiveness and efficiency of social safety net programs for the elderly need to be continuously sought, by linking the responsible government ministries and policies.