Korea has 5 million single-person households

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Korea has 5 million single-person households


The number of single households in Korea topped the five million level for the first time last year, and some 60 percent of those people were married at least once.

According to Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of single households hit 5.11 million in October 2015, up 171,000, or 1.3 percent, compared to the previous year. Among the total, 59.2 percent were or are married but are living alone, up 3.5 percent from a year ago.

“Many of them said they are living alone because their spouses have passed away or they have divorced,” a Statistics Korea official said. “And the rest said they have spouses that don’t live with them for various reasons such as jobs or education.”

South Gyeongsang recorded the largest ratio of single households, 33 percent of total households. It was followed by South Jeolla (32.8 percent) and Gangwon (32.1 percent). The ratio was the lowest in Incheon at 24 percent.

“Rural areas tend to have more single households since the population in general is aging out there compared to big cities in the nation,” said Shim Won-bo, a director at Statistics Korea.

Meanwhile, there were a total of 11.86 million married households as of last October, and in 43.9 percent of them, or 5.21 million households, both spouses work.

The ratio of dual-income households was the highest on Jeju Island at 61.4 percent, while it was the lowest in Busan at 37.6 percent. “The figure was high in regions where there are many jobs related to agriculture, fisheries and restaurants,” Shim said.

According to Statistics Korea, more than 50 percent of Koreans in their 40s and 50s belong to dual-income families, and the ratio of dual-income households rose in all age groups except for people in their 40s.

The stats also showed a rise in couples who live apart because of work. There are some 543,000 households where spouses are living in different locations due to their jobs, up 3.7 percent from the previous year.

“We didn’t ask specific reasons why they are living separately, but we believe the location of workplaces plays a big part,” Shim said. “Additionally, we think that Sejong City, where thousands of civil servants are being transferred, might have had a slight impact on this figure.”

Average working hours per week for men in dual-income households recorded 46.7 hours, 5.8 hours more than the 40.9 hours of women. Working hours for men and women dropped 0.1 hours and 0.5 hours each compared to the previous year.

BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [kim.youngnam@joongang.co.kr]
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