Busan, the second-largest city in South Korea, is facing a population decline crisis due to a sharp outflow of young people and a declining birth rate. The lack of quality job opportunities and career prospects for the city’s residents is a major contributing factor to the population decline. Despite the city’s efforts to revitalize the economy through tourism-based industries, the reliance on low-wage, low-welfare jobs is not a sustainable solution for the city’s long-term economic growth and stability.
In addition to the population decline, Busan is also facing competition from Incheon, which is expected to surpass Busan’s population by 2035. Incheon has already surpassed Busan in terms of gross regional domestic product (GRDP), and it’s not long before it becomes Korea’s “second city.” Incheon surpassed Busan in terms of GRDP for the first time in 2017. In addition, Incheon is expected to continue to experience favorable development, investment, and population inflows based on the free economic zones of Songdo, Yeongjong, and Cheongna.
According to a recent academic paper published in the International Journal of Urban Sciences, the traditional industries in Busan, such as shipbuilding and manufacturing, have been in decline in recent years, leading to a significant decrease in job opportunities. The rise of the gig economy and temporary, low-wage jobs has made it difficult for young people to find stable and rewarding careers, driving them to leave the city in search of better opportunities elsewhere.
The declining birth rate is also exacerbating the problem, as there are fewer young people entering the job market to replace those who are leaving. This trend could have severe long-term consequences for the city, leading to a decline in economic activity, social cohesion, and public services.
The issue is causing significant concern among the city’s residents, with a recent survey revealing that 60% of respondents believe that the city is in danger of disappearing, and 70% expressed concern about the lack of quality jobs in the city.
To address the crisis, the city government has introduced various measures to create new industries such as renewable energy and biotech, and develop programs to support entrepreneurship and small business growth. However, the effectiveness of these measures remains to be seen as the city continues to experience a significant outflow of young people.
The solution to the problem requires the creation of higher-paying, more secure jobs in a range of industries. This calls for investment in education and training programs to develop the skills needed for the jobs of the future. The government must also support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises and encourage entrepreneurship to create jobs and drive economic growth.
Busan’s population decline is a significant challenge that requires urgent action. The city must address the root causes of the issue and ensure that its residents have access to quality jobs and career opportunities. The reliance on tourism-based industries must be re-evaluated to create sustainable job growth, leading to the city’s long-term economic growth and stability. It is crucial for policymakers to work towards a solution that will retain and attract young talent to Busan, securing the city’s future for generations to come in the face of increasing competition from Incheon.
The gig economy refers to a type of work arrangement where individuals work as independent contractors, freelancers, or temporary workers, often on a short-term or project-based basis. In this type of work, individuals typically do not have a traditional employer-employee relationship and are paid for the specific services they provide. Examples of gig economy jobs include ride-sharing drivers, food delivery drivers, freelance writers, and graphic designers. The gig economy has become increasingly popular due to advances in technology that allow individuals to work remotely and connect with potential clients or customers through online platforms. While the gig economy provides individuals with flexibility and the ability to work on their own terms, it also has drawbacks. Gig workers often do not have access to benefits such as health insurance, retirement plans, or paid time off, and their income can be unpredictable and unstable.