The Korea Herald


S. Korea sees highest-ever levels of self-employed older people

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Feb. 27, 2024 - 16:57

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Recent government statistics showed that in 2023, 2.07 million South Koreans aged 60 or above ran small businesses in the country, marking the first time the figure surpassed the 2-million mark.

The number of older self-employed people in the country has nearly doubled since 2003, when the figure stood at 1.09 million. The older self-employed population accounted for 36.4 percent of all 5.68 million self-employed people in South Korea, also the highest-ever level.

In comparison, 17 percent of all employees at other businesses in the country were aged 60 or above.

Self-employed people include employers, own-account workers, members of producers’ co-operatives and unpaid family workers, according to the International Labour Organization. It conventionally refers to non-corporate, small business owners, whose enterprise is run by a single proprietor or with a minimal number of employees.

Of the sole proprietors in the country, 42.1 percent were aged 60 or above, while 22.2 percent of self-employed people with employees were in the 60-and-above group.

The increase in the number of older self-employed people follows South Korea's rapidly aging population.

A Statistics Korea reports show that the percentage of the population aged at least 65 has been rising, and is expected to rise further in the coming years, from 18.4 percent in 2022 to a projected 20.6 percent in 2025. By 2027, the agency estimates 46.4 percent of all South Koreans will be aged 65 or older if the current trend persists.

It was recently reported that 20.1 percent of all job-seeking posts uploaded on the state-run job search website Worknet last year were by people aged 60 and above.