60% of young Koreans see no need to have kids after marriage

Posted on : 2024-05-02 17:35 KST Modified on : 2024-05-02 17:35 KST
Fewer and fewer Koreans in early adulthood feel the need to get married
(Getty Images Bank)
(Getty Images Bank)

The percentage of young Koreans who see marriage as necessary has fallen by 12.5 points over the past six years, a new survey finds. Six out of 10 people aged 13 to 24 surveyed said that even assuming they get married, they would not need to have children.

These were some of the main findings of a 2023 youth fact-finding survey that was published by Korea’s Ministry of Gender Equality and Family on Wednesday. The survey, which is carried out every three years under the Framework Act on Youth, was based on interviews with 7,423 people between the ages of 9 and 24 and their guardians in 5,000 households around the country from July to September 2023.

The percentage of respondents aged 13-24 who said that marriage is necessary was 38.5%, showing no great change from the percentage found in the previous survey in 2020 (39.1%).  But it was still 12.5 points lower than the percentage of young people who saw marriage as necessary in the 2017 survey (51.0%).

Also, 60.1% of respondents agreed that it was “not necessary to have children even if one marries,” a roughly similar rate to the 60.3% recorded three years earlier. In the 2017 survey, 46.1% of young Koreans gave the same response.

In a telephone interview with the Hankyoreh, National Youth Policy Institute senior research fellow Kim Ji-kyung, who was one of the study’s investigators, said, “If the tendency [of decline] that was observed in the last survey continues through the 2026 survey, that could be taken to indicate hardening negative perceptions toward marriage among younger generations.”

Meanwhile, the percentage of respondents who say their life at school had changed for the better rose to 26.8%, compared with 11.4% three years earlier. The rate of those saying their overall life experience had changed for the better increased from 13.4% to 29.6% over the same period.

The previous study was conducted between November 2020 and February 2021, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts in terms of social distancing and remote classes. At the time, 48.4% of respondents said their school experience had changed for the worse, while 30.4% said the same for their general life experience.

The latest findings suggest that as the pandemic has abated and normal life has been largely restored, young people perceive their lives as having changed in positive rather than negative ways.

By Park Hyun-jung, staff reporter

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