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Marriage in 30s is new normal for S. Korea: data

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : Jan. 10, 2023 - 15:50

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The average marriage age for South Korean women was consistently in their 20s for decades, but statistics showed a shifting trend where women are now getting married in their 30s.

According to Statistics Korea, the number of women married for the first time in their 30s surpassed women married in their 20s as of 2021. This is the first time in 31 years, since 1990 when the agency started to compile related data.

In 2021, the total number of reported marriages was 193,000, and of this number, women married for the first time was 157,000.

Analyzing cases by age for first-time marriages, 76,900 cases involved women in their 30s, which accounted for 49.1 percent or almost half of the total number of cases. Followed by 71,263 in their 20s; 6,564 in their 40s; 798 in their teens and 724 in their 50s.

Number of first marriages for women in their 20s and 30s (Korean Statistical Information Service) Number of first marriages for women in their 20s and 30s (Korean Statistical Information Service)

In the 1990s, the number of first-time marriages for women in their 20s was 333,000 while first-time marriages in their 30s was only 19,000. The number of first-time marriages for women in their 20s decreased to 173,000 in 2010, and for women in their 30s it was 85,000, almost two times less than women in their 20s.

As for men, the first-time marriage age already changed in 2005, with 121,000 in their 30s and 119,000 being in their 20s.

The average age of first-time marriage was 31.1 years for women and 33.4 years for men, as of 2021. Compared to the average age of first-time marriage in 1991, 30 years ago -- 24.8 for women and 27.9 for men – women and men now wait 6.3 years and 5.5 years, respectively.

In addition, the number of marriages in 2021 fell below 200,000 for the first time since 1990, recorded as the lowest statistic ever. The number of marriages, which exceeded 400,000 in the 1990s, continued to decline to 300,000 in the 2000s and to 200,000 ten years later, before falling to 193,000 as of 2021.