S. Korea had more than 6 million single-person households in 2019

Posted on : 2020-06-29 00:54 KST Modified on : 2020-06-29 00:54 KST
Number expected to rise annually by 100,000 as young people delay marriage and population ages
Employment among single-person households
Employment among single-person households

More than 6 million South Korean households last year consisted of only one person, or 30% of all households, statistics show. The percentage of single-person households consisting of unemployed persons stood at nearly 40%, while women increased as a percentage of employed single-person households.

On June 23, Statistics Korea published a report on “Employment Conditions for Dual-Income and Single-Person Households” based on employment survey data during the second half of last year. The number of single-person households totaled 6,039,000 as of October 2019, an increase of 251,000 (4.3%) from the year before. The rise of over 250,000 in 2019 was up substantially from the annual totals of 170,000-190,000 in previous years.

Single-person households represented 29.9% of all households, an increase of 0.7 percentage points from the year before. The percentage has risen every year since statistics were first compiled in 2015 (27.4%). Statistics Korea attributed the increase in single-person households to factors including young people delaying marriage after leaving home and a rise in senior citizens living alone due to divorce and widowing amid a general population aging trend.

Unemployed persons -- a category that includes students as well as those who have lost their jobs -- accounted for 2,368,000 single-person households, or 39.2%. The proportion was up slightly from 38.9% in 2018. By gender, males represented 56.7% of all employed single-person households (2,081,000), down one percentage point from the previous year. Females accounted for 43.3% (1,589,000), representing a one-percentage point increase. The rise last year may be seen as rather large compared with the 0.3-percentage point increase in employed women as a percentage of single-person households over the three years from 2015 (42%) to 2018 (42.3%). This was attributed to the higher rate of increase for unemployed women (2.4%) than for men (0.9%) in October 2019.

Among single-person wage earners, 11.7% earned less than 1 million won (US$834) per month, while 21.3% earned 1 million to 1,999,999 won (US$1,667), 36% earned 2 million to 2,999,999 won (US$2,501), 18.8% earned 3 million to 3,999,999 won (US$3,334), and 12.2% earned 4 million won or more.

The South Korean government predicted that the percentage of single-person households -- which stood at just 15% as recently as 2000 -- will pass 30% this year and continue rising by over 100,000 households annually in the future. To respond to this change in household structures, it set up a “single-person household policy task force” in January. With single-person households representing a wide range of social and economic conditions -- from young people just embarking on careers to mid-aged divorced and unmarried persons and senior citizens living alone -- the focus has been on tailoring policies to different demographics. The Ministry of Economy and Finance plans to shortly announce “comprehensive single-person household measures” it is currently developing for the four areas of social services/employment, residence, society/security, and industry.

By Lee Kyung-mi, staff reporter

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

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