Small households may exceed 70% by 2045

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Small households may exceed 70% by 2045

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Three decades from now, seeing a family of four eating dinner at a restaurant will be a rarity. By then, the number of households with two or fewer people is expected to exceed 70 percent of the total.

More than 10 million Korean households will be composed of senior citizens aged 65 or older - half the households in the country.

Those were projections the government statistics agency laid out on Thursday.

The rapidly changing makeup of Korean households is expected to have huge effects both socially and economically.

According to Statistics Korea, households of two or less already account for 53.3 percent of the total. Single-person households account for 27.2 percent or 5.18 million households. That figure will grow to 36.3 percent - nearly 8.10 million household - in 2045. Two-person households, which currently account for 26.1 percent of the total or 4.95 million, are expected to increase to 35 percent or 7.8 million in 2045.

So in 2045, households with one or two people will account for 71.2 percent of the total.

The number of single-person households is expected to rise 97,000 every year while two-person households will increase 95,000 per year. On the flip side, families of four, which accounted for 18.8 percent of the total or 3.58 million in 2015, will shrink to 7.4 percent in 2045, or 1.65 million.

During the same period, households of senior citizens aged 65 or older are expected to account for 47.7 percent of the total, or nearly 10.7 million, in 2045. Currently there are over 3.66 million households consisting of senior citizens, which account for 19.3 percent of the total.

Senior citizens living alone will increase to 3.72 million households in 30 years, accounting for 34.9 percent of the total. Currently such households number 1.2 million or 32.8 percent.

“As the population ages, single senior citizens have been increasing as spouses pass away,” said Lee Ji-yeon, a Statistics Korea official in charge of population trends. “With our low birthrate and aging population, Korean households will see major change as the number of family members shrink.”

By 2045, the total number of households will be over 22.32 million, up from 19 million as of 2015. However, the number of households will start shrinking after reaching a peak in 2043 of 22.34 million.

The impact is already being felt in the real estate market. Smaller apartments are gaining in popularity and companies are introducing products targeted at people living alone.


BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]



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