Workforce Management

Growing Number of Elderly South Koreans in Workforce

As the country faces a shrinking labor force due to its declining population, older women are looking to keep working.

By Maggie Mancini

The solution to South Korea’s shrinking workforce may be its elderly workers, according to a survey from Statistics Korea. The survey reveals that 60% of South Koreans ages 55 to 79 are employed, representing more than 9.3 million people. This marks the higher labor force participation rate for this age group since Statistics Korea began collecting data on the subject in 2005.  

Older labor force participation has grown by 60% over the last 10 years and is expected to exceed 10 million in 2024. The surge is largely attributed to baby boomers, those born between 1955 and 1963, entering the older adult demographic.  

The survey reveals several contributing factors to this rise in labor force participation, including improved health, longer life expectancy, and rising economic concerns incentivizing older people to remain in the workforce.  

Most of the jobs available for older adults are for work that requires little to no experience or training, the survey finds. Approximately 23.2% of the older workforce does unskilled work, and 13.9% work in the service industry.  

A greater number of older women are also willing to participate in the workforce. In 2011, 47.8% of women in this age group were willing to work, jumping to 60.3% in 2021. This is higher than that of men, which increased from 74% in 2011 and 77.3% in 2021.  

Tags: APAC News, APAC November 2023

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