Korea has lowest rate of out-of-wedlock kids

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Korea has lowest rate of out-of-wedlock kids

South Korea has the lowest rate of out-of-wedlock births among advanced countries, primarily because of ingrained conservative social values, a report said Monday.

The report published by the Statistical Research Institute put the country’s unmarried childbearing rate at 1.9 percent in 2014, the lowest among member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Japan came next at 2.3 percent, followed by Turkey at 2.8 percent and Israel at 6.3 percent.

The figure for South Korea compares starkly with 56.7 percent for France and 54.6 percent for Sweden. Other European countries, like the Netherlands and Spain, also posted comparably high rates over 40 percent while the United States registered 40.2 percent. The average for 27 OECD countries was 40.5 percent.

“The reason why the rate is low in South Korea and Japan is because of conservative values,” the report said.

As for the reason why European countries tend to have a higher proportion, the report said, “Cohabitation is more common [in Europe] and there is less discrimination and prejudice against children born out of extramarital affairs.”

The rate was 0.9 percent in 2000, 1.5 percent in 2005 and 2.1 percent for 2010-2013 period.

Other statistics in the report showed there were roughly 1.53 million single-parent households in South Korea as of the end of 2017, or 7.8 percent of all households. Among them, there were 22,065 unwed mothers compared to 8,424 unwed fathers.

A survey of people’s perception of divorce showed changes over the past decade. In 2006, 19.5 percent answered that divorce was out of the question, regardless of the cause. In 2016, the number fell to 9.5 percent.

In a question about whether a divorce is better if there was a reason, 14 percent responded yes in 2016 compared to 6.8 percent in 2006.

BY PARK EUN-JEE, YONHAP [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]
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