‘Solo economy’ just keeps growing

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‘Solo economy’ just keeps growing


As Korea undergoes its demographic revolution, forced by a low birth rate and an aging population, a report showed yesterday that the number of single-person households will surge in the coming decades.

According to the Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade, there were 4.1 million single-member households in Korea in 2010, of which 2.2 million were women and 1.9 million were men.

The number is expected to reach 5.8 million in 2020, or 30 percent of all Korean households compared to 24 percent in 2010.

“The size of households will keep dropping mainly because of the low birth rate, the aging society and late marriages,” said Han Kyung-min, an official from the institute. “In 2030, the number of single-member households will be one-third of total households.”

Marriages are coming later in life as the education level of single females rises along with their participation in the economy. In 1990 the average Korean man married at age 27.8 while women married at 24.8. In 2010, however, the average jumped to 31.8 years old for men and 28.9 years old for women, according to Statistics Korea data.

The institute noted the expansion of economic contributions expected by single-person households in the future.

In 2010, total spending by single-member households was 60 trillion won ($52.9 billion), which will double in 2020 to 120 trillion won. The report also forecast that spending by this group will account for 15.9 percent of the country’s total private spending in 2020, up from 11.1 percent in 2010.

The report coined the term “solo economy” to refer to the growing economic contributions of single-person households in Korea.

In 2010, the average single-person household spent 880,000 won per month, which is expected to increase to 1 million won in 2020.

“With the changing demographics in Korean society, the overall consumer market will undergo a big transformation,” Han said. “There will be higher demand for products targeting single-member households like beauty salons and home-cleaning services.”

BY LEE EUN-JOO [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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