The Population of South Korea

Population size
As of 2015, the population of South Korea was 50.62 million people which equates to 0.70 percent of the world population. In terms of population size, South Korea ranks at place 27 globally. You can click on the link in the table to explore how the size of the population has changed over time.

According to data from the United Nations Population Division, 82.36 percent of the people in South Korea live in urban areas. Globally, the share of the urban population has been increasing in recent decades, reaching about 55 percent, at the expense of the rural population. In South Korea, the share of the population living in rural areas is 17.64 percent, which places the country at rank 161 in the world.
Indicator
Value
Global rank
Year
Population size, in millions 50.62 27 2015
Share of world population 0.70 27 2014
Percent urban population 82.36 36 2014
Percent rural population 17.64 161 2014


Age composition
In general, the age composition of the population in South Korea can be described by the age dependency ratio. This indicator measures the ratio of dependent people (people younger than 15 or older than 64) to the working-age population. A higher ratio may lead to increased pressure on the working-age population to maintain the health, social security and education costs for the economically dependent. In terms of age dependency ratio, South Korea ranks at place 177 globally with a value of 37.21 percent in 2015.

The World Bank provides data on the shares of different age groups in the total population. Globally, the share of children (ages 0-14) has been decreasing since the 1960s to about 25 percent. In South Korea, children make up 13.99 percent of the population, which ranks the country at place 178 in the world. In terms of the percent of the population ages 64 and above, South Korea is at place 48 in the world. In 2015, 13.13 percent of the people in South Korea were at age 64 or above. We should note that the world population has been ageing: the percent of people ages 64 and over has increased from 4 percent in 1960 to over 8 percent in recent years.
Indicator
Value
Global rank
Year
Age dependency ratio 37.21 177 2015
Population ages 0-14, percent of total 13.99 178 2015
Population ages 65 and above, percent of total 13.13 48 2015


Gender
According to data by the United Nations Population Division, women make up 50.30 percent of the population in South Korea. In terms of the female population share, South Korea ranks at place 91 globally. Back in 1960, there were equal numbers of men and women in the world but since then the share of women in the world population has been decreasing slowly but steadily.

In order to measure the gender equality in South Korea, we can look at the percentage of women in the labor force. This indicator represents the share of women in the economically active population. In 2014, 41.59 percent of the total labor force in South Korea were women, which places the country at rank 112 globally. We can measure the gender equality in the decision-making process in government by studying the indicator Percent of women in parliament, provided by the Inter-Parliamentary Union. In terms of this indicator, South Korea is at rank 109 in the world. In 2015, 16.30 percent of the parliamentary seats in South Korea were held by women.
Indicator
Value
Global rank
Year
Female population, percent of total 50.30 91 2015
Labor force, percent female 41.59 112 2014
Women in parliament, percent 16.30 109 2015


Health
The World Bank provides data on the health status of the population in South Korea and many other countries around the world. A base indicator used for determining the physical quality of life in a given country is the life expectancy. Here we use data on the so-called life expectancy at birth which measures the number of years a newborn infant would live if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life. Globally, there is a clearly expressed upward trend in life expectancy over the years. In 2014, the life expectancy in South Korea was 82.16 years, rank 11 in the world. Ususally, the life expectancy in wealthier and more developed countries is higher than in poorer and less developed countries.

The death and birth rates are widely used indicators of the health status of the population. The crude mortality rate measures the number of deaths over the year divided by the population exposed to risk of death in the same year. In South Korea, the number of deaths per 1000 people during 2014 was 5.30. In terms of this indicator, South Korea ranks at place 163 globally. The 2014 birth rate in South Korea, i.e. the number of live births per 1,000 people, was 8.60. That value ranks the country at place 185 in the world. Globally, the birth rate has declined from over 35 percent in the 1960's to below 20 percent.
Indicator
Value
Global rank
Year
Life expectancy, in years 82.16 11 2014
Death rate, per 1000 people 5.30 163 2014
Birth rate, per 1000 people 8.60 185 2014


Education
In terms of tertiary school enrollment, South Korea is at place 1 in the world. The total enrollment in tertiary education was 95.35 percent in 2014. Note that very high values may indicate a large number of university students who stay in school for many years. Data on the tertiary education in South Korea are collected by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics.

Indicator
Value
Global rank
Year
Tertiary school enrollment, percent of all eligible children 95.35 1 2014