A recently released government report reveals a growing trend among South Koreans to avoid marriage.
As per the report released on Monday (August 28) only one-third of South Koreans had a positive perception about marriage. The trend, which has drastically accelerated over the past decade, spells demographic trouble for the already ageing nation.
The report by Statistics Korea found that only 36.4 per cent of South Koreans, between the ages of 19 and 34, wanted to get married. This is down from 56.5 per cent in 2012.
As per the report, the reason behind these plummeting numbers includes economic concerns over the rising costs of living and unaffordable housing.
Respondents who were polled last year also said that one reason they are not getting married is because they do not have enough money for marriage. Some reported feeling that marriage is simply not necessary.
Surprisingly, among those who had a positive perception towards marriage, a majority were men, and only 28 per cent of women responded positively.
In South Korea, there is even a word for women who chose to forego marriage, and remain single: “bihon”.
According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the reason more women are deciding to stay single could be because of their advancement in education and the workplace. This means that compared to earlier generations, the “opportunity cost of marriage” is higher for today’s women.
Given the persistent gender stereotypes, getting married or having children might require women to make concessions concerning their careers or education, reports the OECD. This is especially true because of the challenges women face in returning to work after giving birth.
It’s not just marriage, more and more people, as per the Statistics Korea report, are now dismissive towards childbirth. Since 2018, the number of those who choose to remain child-free is rising. More than half the people surveyed last year reportedly said they don’t see the need to have a child.
The trend is a cause of concern for South Korea, where last year the fertility rate fell to a record low of 0.78. As per the OECD, 2.1 is the rate needed for a stable population, South Korea’s fertility rate is the lowest in the world.