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Baby boomers independent from children: report

Choi Sun-hee, 54, stresses that she and her husband would rather stay in a nursing home than expect their children to live with and support them.

“In my generation, you could buy an apartment with a modest salary worker’s income. But now, inflation has made that nearly impossible. I don’t plan to ask my children for help ― they are too burdened to look after their own family,” she said.

Choi said her pension and house in Seoul would enable them to make ends meet.

She said she would not be leaving too much property to her children either. “I have supported them for 20 years and more. I will help them get married, perhaps, but that will be it. They should stand on their own feet,” she said.

Choi, one of the so-called baby boomers, born between 1955 and 1963, is a classic example of someone for whom the traditional structure of a Korean family is collapsing, as children decline to support their parents and parents refuse to depend on their children after retirement.

They would rather not give or receive than helplessly depend on their children, the Seoul Development Institute said Thursday based on their survey.

The state-run institute asked 1,000 people aged over 45 years old last year and found only 11 percent of those between 45 and 54 years old, the baby boomers, expect their children to support them.

The expectancy showed some increase as the age bracket rose: 18.6 percent of those aged 55 to 64 and 28.1 percent of over-65s were still dependent on their offspring for their future.

About 50.2 percent said they will take responsibility for themselves in retirement, which was about 10 percentage points higher than their seniors. When becoming ill or disabled, 57.3 percent of the baby boomers chose to stay alone or with their spouses only. They chose to stay at professional institutes such as nursing homes and medical facilities (21.7 percent) more often than turning to their children (8.4 percent). The slightly older generations, on the other hand, leant more toward staying with their children.

The independence was evident when it came to inheritance. Only 58.2 percent were willing to pass on their properties to their children, which was more than 5 percentage points lower than those over 65 years old.

Instead, respondents chose to donate their wealth to charity or spend it themselves.

The report noted that baby boomers an average of 2.1 million won a month for their non-income life, and saved an average of 170,000 won every month in their youth for it. The majority found health, marriage relations, hobbies and other things to be more important in their lives than work.

“In 20 years these baby boomers will enter into the senior citizens’ bracket. They will be willing to do something that their predecessors didn’t: self-development. The administration could use them as volunteers and for other resources,” the institute suggested in the report.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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