After baby boom comes well-educated ‘eco generation’

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After baby boom comes well-educated ‘eco generation’

The children of the baby boom generation struggle under expansive housing and job insecurity despite higher levels of education compared to their parents, a government report showed.

According to Statistics Korea, Koreans born between 1979 and 1992 showed distinctive characteristics compared to their parents, not only in their education but also where they live, how they live and the general lifestyle they prefer.

The statistics agency calls this the “eco generation.” It is defined as the offspring of Korea’s baby boomers, who were born between 1955 and 1963 and are now in their late 40s and mid 50s.

There are 6.95 million baby boomers in Korea. The eco generation numbers 9.54 million.

This is the first report in which the different generations are compared in a wide range of categories including social behavior and lifestyle preferences.

The report said that while the parents’ generation barely got through high school, a large number of the eco generation had four-year college educations.

Nearly 45 percent of the baby boomers were able to graduate from high school. In their children’s generation, more than 45 percent attended college and those who stopped studying in high school only amounted to 23 percent.

In fact, while only 20 percent of the baby boomers hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, 48 percent of the eco generation have such degrees.

Their jobs were also far better than their parents’.

While 15 percent of that age group, the largest segment, contributed to the growth of Korea in the 1970s and 1980s by working at factories attending to machinery, when manufacturing was the country’s main business, more than 30 percent, or nearly 1.4 million, eco generation members are working in the service sector as doctors, lawyers, accountants, IT experts and nurses, among others. Office workers came in second with 24.1 percent.

“Baby boomers, who were the main force of Korea’s rapid economic growth, couldn’t afford to pursue higher education in such hard times,” said Byun Yang-gyu, researcher at the Korea Economic Research Institute. “Their priority was to make money.”

Members of the eco generation were able to get better educations because their parents knew how higher education paid off in higher income and other benefits.

“This naturally resulted in an excessive number of people with higher educations,” Byun added.

By Lee Ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]

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