Filial attitudes get less respectful, says survey

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Filial attitudes get less respectful, says survey

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As Korea’s Confucian values continue to give way to modern or Western ways, a decreasing number of young people think they should be solely responsible for elderly parents.

According to a study jointly conducted last year by Statistics Korea and the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, only 35.6 percent of people from ages 15-24 said they intend to fully support their parents when they become elderly. The figure is a significant drop from 67.1 percent in 2002.

The ministry does not know the exact number of people surveyed as it used data provided by 10 different state institutions. It estimates the number at between 30,000 and 37,000.

The decline reflects changing public sentiment about the government’s role in guaranteeing the basic livelihoods of seniors. The percentage of those who think the government and society should help family members take care of their elderly parents with senior-targeted welfare programs climbed to 50 percent from 20.5 percent in a 2002 study.

“In the past, there was a much stronger sense of duty as a child to care for elderly parents compared to nowadays,” said Hwang Hae-beom, an official at the statistics office.

“But as society has been in transition to one that emphasizes individualistic values from one that prioritizes family values, a change in perception among young people has taken root.”

The study also shows a changing perception about marriage among teens and people in their 20s.

More than half of the people aged 15 to 24, or 58.4 percent, said living with partners before tying the knot is not unusual.

But there are some attitudes that remain largely unchanged.

In a testament to family values and marriage, almost half of the respondents, or 46.5 percent, think parental approval of marriages and good relations with in laws are more important than relations between the spouses. In a study in 2008, 45.1 percent said the same thing.

The study also showed that the primary cause of death among people aged 15 to 24 in 2011 was suicide. An average of 13 per 100,000 people in that age group took their own lives compared to an average of 7.8 per 100,000 people killed in car accidents, the second biggest cause of death. In a 2001 study, a much lower figure of 7.7 people per 100,000 people committed suicide.

By Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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