Despite slight improvements, Korea still ranks near bottom in OECD for life satisfaction

Posted on : 2024-02-23 17:36 KST Modified on : 2024-02-23 17:36 KST
A new report showed an average life satisfaction level of 6.5 out of 10 in Korea in 2023, a slight uptick from 2022
(Getty Images Bank)
(Getty Images Bank)

Although quality of life in Korea has improved somewhat, the country still ranks near the bottom of major economies, a new study finds.

A report titled “Quality of Life Indicators in Korea 2023,” published by Statistics Korea on Thursday, measured Korean’s satisfaction with their lives in 2022 at 6.5 points, which was 0.2 points higher than a year before. The life satisfaction metric represents an average of how satisfied individuals are with their life on a scale of 0 to 10 (10 being the highest).

Koreans’ life satisfaction rose by a small amount from 2013 (5.7 points) to 2018 (6.1 points) before nudging down to 6.0 points in 2019 and 2020. Since then, the metric has risen for two years in a row, reaching 6.3 points in 2021 and 6.5 points in 2022.

But Koreans’ life satisfaction remains low compared to major economies.

According to Gallup’s “World Happiness Report,” which surveyed some 150 countries around the world, Korea’s average life satisfaction in the period 2020-2022 measured 5.95 points, which ranked fourth from the bottom among the 38 member states of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. The only OECD members with lower life satisfaction were Türkiye (4.6 points), Colombia (5.6 points) and Greece (5.9 points).

The average among OECD member states was 6.7 points, with the top-ranked countries being Finland (7.8 points), Denmark (7.6 points) and Iceland and Israel (tied at 7.5 points).

The Korean survey found that lower life satisfaction correlated with lower income and older age. As of 2022, low-income households (a monthly income below 1 million won, around US$750) had the lowest life satisfaction of all households, at 6.0 points. But life satisfaction rose with income, peaking at 6.6 points among high-income households (a monthly income of at least 6 million won).

The report by Statistics Korea included an analysis titled “Quality of Life by Age Cohort and Level of Satisfaction in Each Area” by Kwan Da-eun, a researcher at the Korea Development Institute. Kwan’s analysis found that life satisfaction decreases with age through four age groups: teenagers (13-19 years old), young people (20-34 years old), middle-aged people (35-64 years old) and seniors (65 years old and up). In short, the older Koreans are, the less satisfied they are with their lives.

For example, just 29.9% of elderly people reported feeling satisfaction about their inner lives, which was markedly lower than middle-aged people (38%), young people (41.8%) and children and teenagers (56.6%).

By Park Jong-o, staff reporter

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