People in 20s top index for economic happiness

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People in 20s top index for economic happiness

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Self-employed divorced men in their 40s with a bachelor’s degree are the most economically unhappy people in Korea, mainly due to excessive spending on their children’s education while failing to prepare financially for their retirement.

The biennial financial happiness report released Wednesday by the Hyundai Research Institute surveyed 812 Korean adults aged 20 or older. The report said single women in their 20s with highly-paying specialized jobs are the happiest group in the country.

About 49 percent of people in their 20s said they are happy with their economic situation, the biggest portion of any age group. That was followed by people in their 30s (45.4 percent), 50s and older (45 percent), and finally by 40-somethings (41 percent).

By factors that contribute to happiness, the failure to invest in retirement was picked as the biggest hindrance.

Almost 25 percent of participants chose this answer, followed by excessive spending on children’s education (22.6 percent), spending on housing (16.6 percent), job shortages (16.3 percent), low private consumption (13.3 percent) and low investment by businesses (6.4 percent).

By age group, a shortage of jobs was the biggest concern for people in their 20s, while finding affordable housing was the biggest problem for people in their 30s. Children’s education was a major difficulty for parents in their 40s. People in their 50s and older said insufficient investment in retirement was their biggest problem.

As for possible solutions the government could offer, the largest portion of survey respondents, 41.3 percent, said taxes should be increased on the wealthy. A crackdown on tax evasion was cited as a possible solution by 31.7 percent, followed by 21.1 percent who said the government should reduce its budget and 6 percent who called for an overall tax hike.

Analysts said the government should prepare policies that would enable people to spend more to prepare for retirement and to reduce the income gap.

“[People in their 40s were the unhappiest people while] senior citizens aged 60 and older answered that they got happier thanks to the implementation of extending basic pension plan benefits,” said Kim Dong-yeol, chief researcher of economic policy at the Hyundai Research Institute. “However, those non-beneficiaries of the pension plan still feel unhappy because they are unable to invest enough in their retirement.”

“To enhance young people’s overall economic happiness, the government needs to strengthen pension support and job stability,” Kim added.

This year’s survey was noteworthy because the happiness of people in their 40s dropped as the happiness of people that are 60 and older was higher compared to 2012, according to the report. It said that the government’s decision in July to increase the benefits of its basic pension plan was a key factor in the happiness of older people.


BY KIM JI-YOON [jiyoon.kim@joongang.co.kr]

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