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Nearly 1 in 3 households in S. Korea consists of one person last year

Single-member households in South Korea (Yonhap)
Single-member households in South Korea (Yonhap)
Nearly one in three households in South Korea consists of one person last year, data showed Wednesday, as the number of single-member families has risen amid a delay in marriage and rapid aging.

One-person families accounted for 31.7 percent of the total last year, up from 30.2 percent the previous year, according to the data from Statistics Korea.

Households consisting of a single member totaled 6.64 million in 2020, up from 6.15 million a year earlier, the statistics agency said.

The proportion of one-person households has continued to rise since 2015, when the percentage of such households hit 27.2 percent.

The data came in line with the country's demographic changes.

More young South Koreans are delaying or giving up on marriages due to economic difficulties and changes in social norms, resulting in the already-low birth rate dropping.

The country is also undergoing rapid aging with the expectation that it will become a super-aged society in 2025, in which the proportion of those aged 65 and older will hit 20 percent of the total population.

Of the single-member households, people in their 20s accounted for the largest proportion of 19.1 percent last year. It was followed by people in their 30s with 16.8 percent and those in their 50s with 15.6 percent, the data showed.

By gender, women aged 60 and older living alone had the largest share of 45.1 percent. But in the case of men, 56.9 percent were aged between 30s and 50s.

As for reasons for living alone, 24.4 percent picked study and work, followed by death of a spouse with 23.4 percent. The data showed 16.2 percent said they voluntarily chose to live alone as they wanted to do so.

The agency said six in 10 single-member households had jobs last year.

The total of one-person households consisting of working people came to 3.7 million as of October 2020, accounting for 59.6 percent of all one-person households.

But their yearly income amounted to 21.6 million won ($18,400) as of 2019. This compared with average earnings of 59.2 million won by all households. Eight in 10 single-member households earned less than 30 million won per year.

One-person households held an average of 176 million won in assets as of end-2020. Their financial debt averaged 25 million won, the data showed. (Yonhap)

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