Korea's youth population has dropped below 10 million for the first time and is projected to keep dwindling until 2060, when it will hover at about 5 million. The decline will cause labor shortages and have a negative effect on economic growth.
According to a census published by Statistics Korea on Tuesday, the total population is 51.45 million this year, but only 9.25 million are between nine and 24. This is the first time since the first census in 1970 that the youth population has plunged below 10 million.
The youth population stood at 11.33 million in 1970 and peaked at 14.02 million in 1980. Statistics Korea predicts that it will fall to 8.52 million in 2020, 6.99 million in 2030, 6.5 million in 2040, and 5.01 million in 2060.
The reason is a steadily declining birthrate. "The decline in the youth population who will enter the workforce will naturally lead to labor shortages," said Seol Dong-hoon at Chonbuk National University. "This can have a serious impact on economic growth and lead to declining vitality across all economic sectors."
Meanwhile, 51.4 percent of youngsters no longer believe it is necessary to get married, while only 6.2 percent said it is a must, the census found. And 48 percent said divorce is an option.
Six in 10 young people said a couple can live together without formal marriage, and a whopping 77 percent said they would be willing to marry a foreigner.