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Private education expenditure soars amid low consumer spending

South Korean households’ private education spending is growing much faster than their disposable income, statistics showed Thursday, posing a key challenge to the country’s efforts to revive the economy through domestic consumption.

According to a recent survey published by Statistics Korea, the average monthly spending on private education by city-dwelling families of two or more people stood at 226,575 won ($191) in the third quarter of last year, a 6 percent increase compared to 2015. 

The increase in private education expenses was six times higher than that of average disposable income in the same period. 

Multiple signs for hagwons, or cram schools, are seen in downtown Seoul (Herald DB)
Multiple signs for hagwons, or cram schools, are seen in downtown Seoul (Herald DB)

For families with income over 4 million won, private education spending amounted to 618,000 won, compared to families earning between 1 million to 2 million won per month who spend around 45,000 won per month on their children’s education, the data showed.

The proportion of household income allocated to private education also rose from 5.4 percent to 5.7 percent in 2016.

To meet the increased expenditure on private education, the surveyed households reduced their budgets for food and drinks to 4 percent of their income, health services to 8 percent, communication device bills to 3 percent and entertainment to 1 percent, the data showed.

By Bak Se-hwan (
catch table
Korea Herald daum