Employed or not, 8 out of 10 young S. Koreans “exhausted”

Posted on : 2017-08-13 10:23 KST Modified on : 2017-08-13 10:23 KST
Survey on young people’s lives shows satisfaction rating around 50 out of 100
Young job-seekers look at employment information during a 2017 global employment counseling session organized by the Ministry of Employment and Labor last May.
Young job-seekers look at employment information during a 2017 global employment counseling session organized by the Ministry of Employment and Labor last May.

South Koreans aged 19 to 34 rate their life satisfaction at a mere 50 or so points out of 100 regardless of their employment status, a survey shows.

The findings showed 8 out of 10 reporting “exhaustion” due to stress and fears about the future, while 26.2% of employed young people and 51% of job-seekers reported having “no direction.”

The Korea Employment Information Service and the Youth Hope Foundation released findings on Aug. 10 from a quality of life survey conducted for young South Koreans by the team of Sookmyung Women’s University professor Lee Young-min. The survey looked at eight categories, including job-seeking/employment, physical/psychological health, and dating/marriage. A total of 1,578 participants aged 19–34 were classified into employed, job-seeking, and university student categories.

Young people complained of exhaustion regardless of whether they were employed or not. Among job-seekers, 82.6% reported feeling exhausted, citing stress (79%) and fears about the future (77.6%). Exhaustion was also reported by 84.6% of employed respondents, who similarly cited stress (69.1%) along with fears about the future (46%) and general worries (46%).

Statistics also offered proof of the phenomenon that has come to be known as the sampo sedae, or the “generation giving up three things” – namely romance, marriage, and childbirth. The results showed 26.2% of employed respondents and 51% of job-seekers saying they had no intention to marry. Forty-four percent of employed respondents and 59.4% of job-seekers said they had no plans to have children even if they do marry. Financial reasons were most widely cited in declining to have children (29.7% of employed respondents, 25.2% of job-seekers). Employed respondents were also more likely to cite “not wanting to pass on a hard life to my children” as a reason the lower their salary was. Just 18.1% said they were giving up on children to “concentrate on work” or “enjoy my time.”

Young people also reported fairly low satisfaction with their current job, which is a key factor in quality of life. Just 35.1% of respondents reported being satisfied with their current employment. Eighty-five percent of employed respondents said they were considering changing jobs, citing “the desire to find better work” (52.5%), “low pay” (14.7%), and “toughness of duties” (7.1%). Employed respondents reported an average annual salary of 29.7 million won (US$25,910), which was similar to the desired salary of 30.05 million won (US$26,210) reported by job-seekers, but well short of the 35.85 million won (US$31,270) desired salary among the currently employed and the 38.91 million won (US$33,940) desired salary reported by university students.

Average current life satisfaction ratings were 54 out of 100 for employed respondents and 46 for job-seekers. The young respondents also worked to convince themselves that satisfaction would improve in the future, with predicted ratings of 62 for employed respondents and 56 for job-seekers.

By Park Taee-woo, staff reporter

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