The Korea Herald


Amid fewer marriages, S. Korean newlyweds have more debt than ever

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : Dec. 11, 2023 - 17:14

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

With fewer couples getting married each year here, the amount of combined debt of recently married couples recorded an all-time high, a report showed Monday.

According to a report on those recently married by Statistics Korea, the median amount of combined debt for these households in South Korea in 2022 was 164 million won ($124,000), marking both an all-time high and jump of 7.3 percent from the year before. It also showed that 89 percent of such couples overall are in debt.

The report concerns couples who have been married for five years or less and reside in South Korea.

While recently married couples are now shouldering more debt than ever, more of them are two-career couples and on average make a combined income higher than before. The percentage of recently married dual-income married couples went from 54.9 percent in 2021 to 57.2 percent last year, and the average combined household income for them rose 6.1 percent to 67.9 million won.

Recently married couples that consist of two working spouses are less likely to have children -- with those that did at 49.8 percent -- compared to such couples in which only one spouse worked, 59.4 percent of which had children.

With a seemingly larger combined financial burden than before, the number of recently married couples in the country has been on a downward trajectory since the agency started tallying the figure in 2015. There were 1.44 million recently married couples in 2015, which dropped each year from 1.1 million in 2021 and 1.03 million in 2022.

This year, the number is projected to drop below 1 million for the first time, as 233,000 couples that were in their fifth year of marriage will no longer be included in the figure. The agency projected the number of newlywed couples this year to be around 190,000.