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8 September 2022

Projecting informal care demand among older Koreans between 2020 and 2067

Bo Hu, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom


Background: The number of Korean older people receiving informal care is expected to rise sharply due to aging population. This study makes projections of demand for informal care in community-dwelling older people aged 65 and over in Korea until 2067.

Method: The study drew on data collected from waves 4-6 of the Korean Longitudinal Study of Aging (2012-2016, N=12,975). Population data published by Statistics Korea and data from the Long-term Care Insurance Statistical Yearbook for Korea were also used. A macro-simulation model was built to make the projections.

Results: The number of older people receiving informal care will increase from 0.71 million in 2020 to 2.2 million in 2067. Demand for informal care from adult children or relatives is projected to rise by 257%, much faster than the increase in demand for spousal care (164%). The estimates are sensitive to alternative assumptions about future mortality rates, fertility rates, patterns of migration, and the prevalence of functional disabilities in the population.

Conclusion: Demand for informal care in Korea will rise substantially in the coming decades, and the increase will be uneven for different groups of care users. Our analyses are not only relevant to the long-term care system for the general older population but also have profound implications for intensive users of long-term care in Korea such as people living with dementia. The findings highlight the importance of accurate identification of unmet needs in the population and timely delivery of government support to older people and their informal caregivers.

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