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Voting public in Korea will peak in 2032 and then dip

May 12,2017
The number of eligible voters will peak in the 2032 presidential election, after which the electorate will shrink and become much older as Korea’s low birthrate begins to take its toll, population statistics indicated Thursday.

Assuming that the presidential race is held every five years with the voting age set at 19, the number of eligible voters in 2032, three elections from now, will hit a peak of 45,198,147 people, according to Statistics Korea. This is 6.4 percent more than the 42,479,710 in Tuesday’s election.

The overall population will increase up to the year 2031 but shrink from then on from the falling birthrate and aging society, affecting the electorate, statistics showed. By the 2037 election, the number of people aged 19 and over will decline to 45,164,171, down 0.08 percent from the 2032 election. In 2042, it will further drop to 44,718,844.

Come 2062, the number of eligible voters will fall to under 40 million for the first time since 2007, statistics indicated.

The electorate will simultaneously get older. People aged 60 and over accounted for 24.4 percent of eligible voters in Tuesday’s election, the largest age segment. In the 2032 election, the age group will increase to 40.3 percent while all of the younger segments will become smaller, according to forecasts.

In the 2047 election, over-60 voters will be a dominate force, with 50.3 percent of the electorate, and by 2062, 55.6 percent. By comparison, the young generation, aged 19-29, will account for 9.9 percent in 2062.

The implications from such electorate shifts are not small, considering that older voters tend to prefer conservatives.

Debate is growing in the country over whether to lower the voting age to 18, one of the campaign pledges of President Moon Jae-in, who took office Wednesday.

Statistics show that while the measure may slow down the pace of aging among voters, the main trends will remain the same.

Even with the change, the voter population will peak in 2032 and start to fall from the 2037 election. The number of over-60 eligible voters will still be the highest in the 2032 election, although 0.4 percentage point less than if the voting age is kept at 19.

A notable difference will be that while the size of the electorate for people aged 30-50 will shrink in the 2032 race, the proportion of under-29 eligible voters will increase 0.8 percentage point.

Yonhap