By Kang Seung-woo
Korea’s per-capita income for last year is expected to fall short of the government’s earlier forecast due to rapid population growth, the finance ministry said Friday.
“Due to an unexpected increase in population, the per-capita gross national income (GNI) is expected to range from $22,500 to $24,000,” said Choi Sang-mok, director general of the economic policy bureau at the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.
The government earlier estimated that the per-capita GNI, that reflects the actual purchasing power of the population, will reach between $23,500 and $24,000 in 2011. The prediction was based on the nation’s economic growth and inflation, projected at 3.8 and 4 percent respectively for last year.
“We will be able to confirm the exact figures for last year after real gross domestic product (GDP) for the fourth quarter is released in March, but per-capita GNI is likely to be slightly lower than estimated,” he said.
Per-capita GDP is not the same as per-capita GNI, as the latter factors in terms of trade and income from other countries, including interest and dividends in addition to the gross national product (GNP).
According to the central bank, per-capita GNI stood at $20,759 and per-capita income at $20,756 in 2010.
The decrease in the per-capita income is attributed to a population increase.
According to the latest figures from Statistics Korea last month, the nation’s population will grow to 49.78 million for 2011, revised up from 48.99 million forecast in 2006.
Despite the projected decline in per-capita GDP, the nation’s income level will likely surge to a record high for 2011. Based on this outlook, per-capita GNI will be up by 10.8 percent compared to the 2010 numbers.
The country’s per-capita GNI first broke the $20,000 mark in 2007 at $21,695 but the global financial crisis pushed the figure down to $19,296 in 2008 and $17,193 in 2009. A strong economic recovery helped Korea to bounce back over the $20,000 threshold in 2010.
Meanwhile, the nation’s per-capita GDP is expected to top $30,000 for the first time in 2015 by reaching $31,733 according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).