Older pairs are cutting marital knot

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Older pairs are cutting marital knot

For the first time, the divorce rate among long-married Seoul couples last year exceeded the rate for newlyweds, according to a report on Monday by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.

According to the city government, 6.6 percent of couples married for more than 20 years filed for divorce in 1990, but the rate soared to 27.3 percent by last year.

At the other end of the connubial spectrum, the divorce rate for couples wedded for less than four years decreased from 38.3 percent in 1990 to 25 percent last year.

Divorces among couples in which at least one spouse was over age 50 increased from a 15.1 percent rate in 1980 to 49.7 percent last year. By coincidence, Seoulites aged 50 or over now constitute just under half of the total number of divorced people in the city.

“We believe that both the number of people who have divorced after long marriages and the number of people who are single have increased because perceptions of marriage have changed along with the expansion of women’s rights,” a city official said.

According to the report, the number of singles aged 25 to 49 increased more than sevenfold over the past 40 years, from 215,184 in 1970 to 1.59 million last year. During the same period, the percentage of singles among the total Seoul population increased from 11.9 percent to 37.9 percent.

Koreans are also getting married later than in previous years. The average age of a male’s first marriage was 28.3 in 1990 but increased to 32.2 last year. The average marriage age for females also increased, from 25.5 in 1990 to 29.8 last year.

By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]
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