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BOK Working Paper No.2017-24, Population Aging of Reunified Korea

Economic Research Institute (+82-759-5431) 2017.07.20 5238

Title : Population Aging of Reunified Korea

Author : Jiyoung Choi(BOK)



This study introduces various scenarios of changes in fertility rates and life expectancy of North Korea after Korean reunification, and compares the development of population aging by scenario based on demographic projections calculated by the cohort component method.

These scenarios are set up in consideration of the demographic changes in Germany, observed after its Reunification: the fertility rate of East Germany dropped by half right after unification; and its life expectancy converged to the level of West Germany. Therefore, the fertility shock and the convergence of life expectancy are reflected in the scenarios of North Korean population after unification. Besides, this study assumes a scenario where the fertility rate of the North could increase due to an improvement in child-care environment and public health, considering the distinct features of the inter-Korean unification. 

The main finding of this study is as follows. The population integration of the two Koreas may alleviate the burden of population aging of South Korea. This positive impact, however, may be gradually reduced if the North’s fertility rate sharply drops and life expectancy converges to the level of the South. Yet, the level of population aging may be continuously reduced in case the fertility rate of the North raises even though its life expectancy converges to the level of the South. 

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