Paying for parents

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Paying for parents

Fewer children today think they should be solely responsible for their parents as they age.

People who think that the whole family, the state and society should share the responsibility now outnumber those who think it is the sole duty of the children.

This sea change in social values was revealed in a 2008 survey conducted by the Korea National Statistical Office.

When the survey was first conducted in 2002, 70.7 percent of respondents said children should support their parents. But the figure has plunged to 40.7 percent this year. In 2002, 18.2 percent of people said different parties should share the responsibility of looking after society’s senior citizens, but this year 43.6 percent held this view.

And a significant 11.9 percent of respondents said that parents should take care of themselves after retirement.

The problem is that while children think society and the state should take care of their aging parents, they take it for granted that parents should support their children. In the survey, 98.6 percent of respondents said parents should pay for their children’s education and 88.8 percent said parents should pay costs when their children get married. In addition, 71.2 percent said parents should give children an allowance if they don’t find jobs.

This financial exploitation of parents is seen when children ask for money to learn a foreign language abroad or travel overseas, and even for plastic surgery. It’s not unusual for children to ask their parents to pay for their grandchildren’s education. People say, half in jest, that a baby needs a rich grandfather in order to get into a good university.

Korea’s life expectancy has grown to nearly 80 years, which means parents can spend a good 20 years in retirement. But if they use all their resources on their children, they can’t prepare for their own lives after retirement.

How can we support senior citizens who don’t have much in the way of savings and don’t get financial assistance from their own children?

Parents must worry about supporting their children to such great lengths and preparing for their own life after retirement. Children must take care of themselves after graduation. The government must hurry through reforms for the national pension scheme.

In addition, the national health insurance program must be completed so that people who don’t have children can turn to it in need.

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