Multicultural families becoming more stable
According to data released yesterday by Statistics Korea, the average length of marriage for international couples and the number of births are on the rise, while divorces are declining.
The number of children born in multicultural homes rose 4.1 percent to 22,908 last year compared to 2011. The number has been increasing since 2010.
Those children accounted for 4.7 percent of all births last year, indicating that about five in 100 Korean children are from multicultural families.
In 2008, their share was 2.9 percent, showing that multicultural couples are making a significant contribution to boosting the nation’s low fertility rate.
The number of divorces of international couples dropped 5.2 percent to 13,701, and the length of marriage has been rising for the past three years from 4.7 years to 5.4 years.
Meanwhile, there were 29,224 marriages last year, down 4.8 percent from 2011, the second straight annual decline.
Of those, 71 percent of the husbands were Koreans, followed by Chinese (9.2 percent), Americans (5.5 percent) and Japanese (5.4 percent). It is the first time American husbands surpassed Japanese, the agency said.
On the other hand, 70.6 percent of the couples had foreign wives. Chinese wives claimed the largest share (30 percent), followed by Vietnamese (23 percent) and Filipinos (7.8 percent).
The report found that both husbands and wives were better educated. The proportion of husbands with college diplomas surged from 34 percent in 2010 to 42 percent last year. Wives with degrees went from 28 percent to 36 percent.
The data showed the average age difference of first-time international married couples was 6.8 years, down from 10.3 in 2010.
By the government’s definition, a multicultural family includes foreigners and those who have acquired Korean citizenship.
“Owing to the government’s policy to resolve problems involving international couples, patterns of international marriages are showing significant improvement in terms of stabilization,” said Lee Jae-won, director at the agency. “There were social problems because of marriages between old men and very young women, but the age gap is gradually narrowing.”
Lee added that most multicultural families used to live in rural areas, but now they are moving to bigger cities.
BY SONG SU-HYUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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