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Taiwanese seniors employed at lower rate than in Japan, South Korea, US

Only 8.8% of Taiwanese over 65 hold jobs, which poses challenges due to aging population

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A group of elderly people play mahjong.

A group of elderly people play mahjong. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The labor force participation rate for people aged 65 years and older in Taiwan is only 8.8%, which may pose challenges as the nation's population ages, according to CNA.

Based on an analysis of data compiled by the General Accounting Office, the Ministry of Labor said that last year, the number of middle-aged and senior laborers was 4.8 million, an increase of 0.5% from the previous year and 1.4% since 2008. Middle-aged people, defined as 45 to 64 years old, participated at a rate of 64%, while seniors, defined as 65 years old and above, participated at a rate of only 8.8%.

In terms of those aged 45 to 59, Taiwan’s 84.1% labor participation rate is relatively high compared to the 82.2% in the U.S. and 79.9% in South Korea, though Japan’s is even higher at 88.5%. However, when it comes to seniors, Taiwan’s 8.8% labor participation rate is far lower than that seen in the U.S., South Korea, and Japan, where the rates range from 19-36%.

Nevertheless, the workforce in Taiwan is expanding, and the gender gap among workers who are middle-aged or seniors appears to be shrinking as well. In 2020, a combined 55.7% and 35.2% of men and women, respectively, in these age groups were unemployed. The 20.4% gender gap in 2020 was 3.6% smaller than in 1999.

Among Taiwan’s middle-aged and senior populations, 5.74 million people were unemployed in 2020. A total of 56.6% gave “age” as the reason, while 25.7% cited "housework" and 7.6% “adequate family finances.”