Half of young Koreans no longer believe in having kids after marriage

Posted on : 2023-08-29 16:57 KST Modified on : 2023-08-30 09:39 KST
Recently published findings show drastic changes in the attitudes of young adults in Korea over the past 10 years
(Getty Images Bank)
(Getty Images Bank)

A recently published report shows that 53.3% of young adults in South Korea believe that it is not necessary to have children after marriage. This is especially true for young women, with 65% of young women expressing the sentiment, compared to 43.3% of young men.

While only 28% of young women reported feeling positive about marriage, the proportions for both men and women were down close to 20 percentage points from polls 10 years ago. This signifies a drastic change in the value young people place on marriage and having children over the last decade.

According to a report on changes in the views of young Koreans based on social surveys released by Statistics Korea on Monday, the proportion of respondents who agreed with the sentiment “There’s no need to have children after marriage” jumped from 46.4% in 2018 to 53.5% in 2022. That puts the proportion of younger Koreans who feel this way 18.8 percentage points higher than the overall population (34.7%).

In particular, young women (65%) were much more likely than young men (43.3%) to believe there to be no need to have children after marriage. Among Koreans aged 19-24, 57.3% agreed with this sentiment.

The proportion of young people who expressed agreement with the statement “It is OK to have children outside of marriage” also increased from 29.8% in 2012 to 39.6% in 2022, with the proportion of those aged 19-24 agreeing with the sentiment reaching 38.8%. This is a significant increase from a decade ago in 2012 (26.9%).

Men (40.2% in 2022) are slightly more likely than women (38.8%) to agree that it is OK to have a child outside of marriage.

The proportion of young people who report feeling positive about marriage has dropped significantly from 56.5% in 2012 to 36.4% in 2022 — 13.6 points lower than the overall population. By gender, the percentage of women who felt positively about marriage fell from 46.9% to 28.0%. This was far lower than the proportion of men who feel positively about marriage, which fell to 43.8% from 66.1% over the same period.

Young adults were most likely to cite “lack of money for marriage” (33.7%) as the main reason for not marrying. This was followed by “not seeing the need for marriage” (17.3%), “burden of childbirth and childcare” (11.0%), and “job instability” (10.2%).

The proportion of young people who say they believe in living together with a partner without getting married has increased significantly from 61.8% in 2012 to 80.9% in 2022. That compares to 65.2% of the overall population who share the sentiment.

The proportion of young adults who believe that “divorce is good if there is a reason” also increased from 13.1% to 24.1% over the same period.

The percentage of young adults who believe that, when it comes to married life, the married couple should come before other family was 60.7% in 2022.

As of 2021, the most important factors for young adults when choosing a job were income (35.8%), stability (22.1%), aptitude/interest (19.1%), and work environment (9.8%)

In 2021, young adults (19-29 years old) preferred to work for state-owned enterprises (23.2%), government agencies (20.8%), and major companies (20.2%). Ten years ago, in 2011, it was state organizations (27.7%), major companies (19.6%), and public companies (19.3%).

Both men and women preferred public companies, but men preferred major companies (22.3%) over state organizations (19.8%) and women preferred state organizations (21.9%) over major companies (18.1%).

By Cho Kye-wan, senior staff writer

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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