Half of South Koreans see marriage as no longer necessary

Posted on : 2023-03-24 16:52 KST Modified on : 2023-03-24 17:39 KST
17.5% of Korean population is now 65 or older

The number of people aged 65 or older in South Korea passed 9 million in 2022. The number of households whose main breadwinner was 65 or older exceeded 5 million in 2021.

According to the “Social Indicators in 2022” report released by Statistics Korea on Thursday, the number of people aged 65 and over was 9.02 million (based on population projections in 2022) — an increase of around 450,000 compared to 2021.

People aged 65 and over accounted for 17.5% of the total population (51.63 million) in 2022. South Korea’s total population peaked at 51.84 million in 2020 and has been declining since.

By region, South Jeolla Province had the most 65-year-olds at 24.5%, followed by North Gyeongsang Province at 22.8%, North Jeolla Province at 22.4%, and Gangwon Province at 22.1%. Sejong had the lowest share of the 65-and-older population at 9.9%.

The report showed that 17.2% of Seoul’s population was aged 65 and over, on par with the national average.

The number of households in which the main breadwinner was aged 65 or older was 5.06 million in 2021 (2021 Census). This was an increase of 280,000 households from 2020. Such so-called senior households accounted for 22.8% of all households in 2021, or about 1 in 5 households. Of all senior households, 36.4% were one-person households, an increase of 1.3 percentage points from 2020.

The share of households made up of two or fewer people has been growing over the years. In 2000, four-person households represented the largest share at 31.1%, while single-person households and two-person households were both below 20%, at 15.5% and 19.1%, respectively. In 2021, single-person households held the largest share, at 33.4%, while two-person households made up 28.3%. The average Korean household in 2021 was made up of 2.3 people.

Meanwhile, half of Koreans believe that marriage is not necessary. Among those aged 13 and over, the proportion who said a person “should” or “it would be a good idea” was 50%. At the same time, 43.2% said it didn’t matter either way, 3.6% said that people “should not get married,” and 3.2% were “not sure.” When broken down by gender, more than half (55.8%) of men and 44.3% of women said they thought that a person should get married. (36,000 people surveyed May 11-26, 2022)

The proportion of people in 2022 who believe one should have children after marriage was 65.3%, showing a 2.7% decrease from 2021. More men (69.6%) than women (61.1%) believed people should have children after marriage. The 2022 total fertility rate of 0.78 children was the lowest since statistics began being recorded in 1970.

By Choi Ha-yan, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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