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Single-person households spend most on housing, utilities

A real estate agency in Seoul posts apartment rent and jeonse price tags on its window. (Yonhap)
A real estate agency in Seoul posts apartment rent and jeonse price tags on its window. (Yonhap)
Housing-related expenditures such as rent, water, electricity and gas accounted for the largest part of a single-person households’ spending in South Korea, government data showed Wednesday.

For the first three months of this year, single-person households spent a monthly average of 300,000 won ($241.74) on housing-related expenditures, accounting for 20.5 percent of their total average monthly spending, a Statistics Korea data showed. Their total average monthly spending came to 1.46 million won.

The portion of the group’s spending on housing-related expenditures among total consumption expanded 8.2 percent on-year, eclipsing consumption on 11 other categories including food and clothing.

Compared with single-person households, those consisting of more than two people spent 12.2 percent of their total consumption on housing-related expenditures. They spent a monthly average of 370,000 won on rent, maintenance, fuel and more.

Disposable income -- the amount of money that an individual or household has to spend or save after income taxes have been deducted – for single-person households came to a monthly average of 2.16 million won. Households with more than two members had an average monthly disposable income of 4.65 million won, more than double the amount of single-person households.

The latest Statistics Korea data comes as Asia’s fourth-largest economy has been seeing a surge in single-person households, with the proportion of the group hitting an all-time high of 31.7 percent, or 6.64 million, out of the nation’s population of some 50 million in 2020. Young Koreans accounted for the largest proportion of single-person households, with those in their 20s and 30s taking up 19.1 percent and 16.8 percent, respectively, in the same period.

But with the heated housing market and ever-surging real estate prices, single-person households have been facing an increasing burden on housing-related expenditures.

According to a recent survey conducted by the state-run think tank Seoul Institute on 3,079 single-person households, 54.1 percent responded they felt hardships or pressure in paying rent and other housing-related expenditures. Of the respondents, 66.8 percent were those in their 20s and 30s.

“The current system makes it easier for households with more than two members to win public rental housing assistance programs for low-income households,” Ahn Hyun-chan, a researcher at Seoul Institute said.

“A new policy that could also support single-person households is needed, with the group continuing to expand.”

(mkjung@heraldcorp.com)
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