Fewer parents live with kids

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Fewer parents live with kids

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The Korean traditional household where three generations live together has changed significantly, as fewer people believe marriage is a must.

Only 29.2 percent of Koreans said they live with their children, the first time the figure fell below 30 percent, the government said Tuesday. In 2008, 38 percent of Koreans lived with their children.

“The number of children living with their parents continues to drop and a few of the biggest reasons for them to live apart were due to their jobs and education,” said Yoon Yeon-ok, a director at Statistics Korea. “Even among parents who live with children, more people are spending their own money for living and fewer children that live with parents pay for their parents’ expenditures.”

According to the agency’s data, 52.6 percent of parents who live with their children said they pay their own household expenditures, 2.4 percentage points more compared to two years ago. The number of children who paid for their parents dropped from 49.5 percent in 2014 to 47.4 percent this year.

Data released on Tuesday also showed that fewer Koreans think marriage is a must and more support living with their partners without getting married.

The number of those who said that people must get married was 51.9 percent this year, dropping from 64.7 percent in 2010 and 56.8 percent in 2014. More men (56.3 percent) believed marriage is important compared to women (47.5 percent).

The number of those who believe they can live with their partners without getting married rose from 40.5 percent in 2010 to 48 percent this year, and more men were open to the idea.

Only about 30.8 percent of Koreans said children should look after their elderly parents, which is a sharp fall from 40.7 percent in 2008 and 31.7 percent in 2014. More people believed that not only should family members look after older Koreans, but it also is the responsibility of the government and society; 18.6 percent said they should take care of themselves, up 6.7 percentage points from 2008.

Adults are also making other lifestyle changes.

Data showed that there are fewer people eating breakfast and smoking cigarettes, while more are drinking alcohol.

“The number of smokers continued to fall starting from 2006 while that of drinkers inched up,” said Yoon at the statistics agency.

According to the report, 20.8 percent of Koreans older than 19 said they smoke, down from the 22.7 percent reported two years ago. The smoking rate was the highest for those in their 40s at 26.4 percent, and 51.4 percent of them smoke less than a half-pack a day.

“Some 50.4 percent said they have tried to quit smoking in the past year but more than half of them said they failed to do so due to the stress they are having from work and at home,” said Yoon.

The percentage of Koreans who had at least one drink in the past year was 65.4 percent, which is slightly higher than 64.6 percent in 2012.

“People drinking two to three times a month accounted for the highest portion of the drinkers, with 29.7 percent, and 4.9 percent of them said they drink almost every day,” said Yoon.

More than half, or 53.1 percent, said they drank for social reasons; 41.1 percent said they drank because of stress. Multiple choices were allowed.

“[For some reason] the percentage of people who think their health condition is in good shape was higher for drinkers and smokers than non-smokers and non-drinkers,” said Yoon.

The number of people eating breakfast also dropped, while the numbers of people exercising and getting regular medical checkups rose.

According to the data, 67.2 percent of Koreans ate breakfast, down from 70.1 percent in 2012. The number of those who got medical checks regularly rose from 58.3 percent in 2012 to 60.7 percent this year, and the number of exercisers increased from 36.9 percent to 38 percent in the same period.

The biggest fear factors for Korean residents were crime, national security and economic issues. Man-made disasters were of primary concern in 2014, followed by national security and crime.

The statistics agency surveyed 38,600 Koreans older than 13, or 25,233 households, from May 18 to June 2. The government releases the data every two years.


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

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