Childless Families Becoming More Common in Korea

Article from Yonhap News:[2015/12/10]

The 2015 Korean Societal Trends Report from Statistics Korea

It appears that the proportion of couples in their late 30s among the number of childless homes has been quadrupled in the last 35 years.

On the 10th of December, the Statistics Research Institute, part of Statistics Korea, presented the 2015 Korean Societal Trends Report and according to this report, the number of childless homes in 1975 was 1.6% and rose to 2.1% in 2010.

During that period, the ratio of childless homes where the wife is between 35 and 39 years old increased from 1.1% to 4.1%, showing a dramatic increase.

Childless homes are defined as homes without a child where the wife is between 35 and 64 years old.

The rate of childless homes where the wife is between 35 and 44 continues to increase, along with the trend of marry at a later age.

As the time spent as a married couple gets shorter, the likeliness of not have children increases.

[The report showed that] in 2010, 36.7% of men in their thirties were unmarried, an increase from 12.4% in 1995. The percentage of unmarried women in their thirties rose from 4.6% to 19.9% in the same period.

Wives from childless homes show a tendency to have a higher education level and higher positions in their companies than the wives of homes with children.

While women with a higher education level are seeking more work experience and self-realization, they are delaying marriage.

In the 1975 Housing and Population census, the average education level of the wife from a childless home was below elementary school, while in 2010 the average was a high school education.

The percentage of wives from childless homes focusing on their career was 0.9% in 1975 and increased to 17.0% by 2010.

The number of childless couples with high educational backgrounds or who are focusing on their careers but wish to raise children was rather high.

Professor Kye Bong-oh from Kukmin University and Professor Kim Du-seop from Hanyang University mentioned that, “If the number of childless homes keep increasing, we really have to consider that the situation of low fertility will intensify, and as such, future policies aimed at increasing the fertility rate will have to be targeted to well-educated and high-positioned women.”

Comments from Naver:


The president is also unmarried, without children, and lives well, so why are we constantly being told to get married and have kids. Why is she pushing measures that are totally out of touch with reality.


We’re told to have kids just for them to inherit our poverty… they want to make tax-paying machines … educational expenses for an elementary kid is 1.5 million won a month! Even if you are a double income family, this is hard to take… Politicians have money so they don’t really care… People who live paycheck to paycheck need to go into debt to pay for their kids’ education all the way up through university. They grow up to become tax-paying machines. It’s funny but sad.


If you have kids its nice to see them, but raising them is hard, it doesn’t matter if you are a man or a women, as infant care puts a stop to your career, even if your parents say they’ll look after the kids, isn’t it too hard for them at their age? But sending them to a daycare center is also hectic, so its really true that raising kids is difficult. Then, is our country a nice place to live when you don’t have a double income? With the prices and the rent, raising kids is tough in Korea. But it’s worth living here as a DINK [Double-Income No Kids].


Those guys born with a silver spoon in their mouth are telling us to be slaves and make babies? I will finish this circle of slavery in my generation.


If you have a kid, you’ve got 10,000 problems. If you don’t have any you’ve got only one problem.


When you have kids, the most important thing is to raise them well and make sure they are successful. But if it doesn’t turn out that way they can become a nuisance. Not having kids can also be good fortune. After spending lots of money, it’s also a crap game when they graduate from university and are looking for a job, since life is hard, and it becomes completely useless after time passes by. Instead, the emptiness of not having kids can largely be compensated by the fact that you have more financial freedom. In the future if one of the two parents passes away you can just remarry. After all, life is all in vain – you come in the world with nothing and leave it with nothing. You just need to live in the least painful way.


The top 10% should make lots of babies, the lowest 50% should end their family line, and the ones in between should just do whatever they want.


It’s convenient to not have any children


Those who have wealth can just make one or two more.


While then encourage pregnancy, they are cutting the childcare subsidies by a lot… tsk tsk are they not cutting the salary of the members of the National Assembly?


Maybe if you completely remove private education and education becomes free at least up to high school… from the perspective of a person raising two kids, you can really regret it sometimes…


Even without considering my financial status, I don’t feel the need to have a baby.


While the government makes a bunch of bad regulations and measures, there are too many things they are asking of the Korean people.


This is so like Hell Joseon… as long as politicians and big companies act like that, will there be any change? They are trying to take advantage of good Korean people.


So what if you have a baby in your late 30’s? Raise them in your forties, get old, then help them study in your fifties, pay tuition in your sixties, and help them get a job in your seventies? It is terrifying just thinking of it. If you are going to raise a child, do it early, otherwise don’t do it at all.


Hell Joseon is really nosy about marriage and childbirth. Why do they fucking care? Annoying…


Let’s acknowledge diversity here. There can be people who are not married, people with no kids, you don’t have to make them look weird because they are different… this is tiring.


If you have the [financial] freedom to send your kids to a special-purpose high school, then you have babies.

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  • PeninsulaPeople

    Korean System at fault. Price > Service.

  • NondescriptRG

    Good to see that reasonable people see through the government’s bullshit. The only thing the “elite” cares about is having more slaves to exploit. But in that case they should also take responsibility for raising those slaves and not push everything onto others’ shoulders.

    • firebert5

      While it is likely true that the government has its own interests in mind, it is talking about a very real danger that the reproductive rate is too low. A reproductive rate lower than 1.3 or 1.4 is nearly impossible to reverse and South Korea’s reproductive rate is just under 1.2 right now. It will not be long before this translates to more retirees than there are members of the workforce able to support them. The government in South Korea is certainly self-serving in their “concern,” but the issue itself is still very real and should be addressed, though I don’t think Park’s government has done so in a very positive way.

  • Papi

    They don’t know what they are missing out on, having kids is a joy and worth every second of sacrifice they require.

  • bigmamat

    If you ever want to have money, a good night’s sleep or a sex life, don’t have kids.

  • takasar1

    don’t have kids then. just don’t complain when, in 50 years, the government cuts pensions due to a plummeting labour force, raises taxes to combat the enormous budget deficit and work down the massive public debt. and all you’re left to do is freeze in a cold dystopian care home with no family. enjoy the second-hand car imports for now though…splash as much money on them and make-up as you like

    • niga jael jal na ga

      Wow that is quite pessimistically drastic.

      • takasar1

        is it not true?

        • niga jael jal na ga

          I personally am not too sure. We only have Japan took lool towards to see how the government looks after an ageing population and they aren’t too bad right now. Their financial problems isn’t necessarily due to old people. Plus, there are many benefits an ageing population can bring. It just depends on how the government responds with policy to the older people.

          • takasar1

            i don’t really think there is any alternative to the effects of aging apart from going the way of japan. less workers, more pensioners. less tax income due to smaller number of workers and as companies hoard cash and/or invest abroad. yet expenditure increases hugely. debt and deficits naturally result.

            japan isn’t doing too bad if you view the natural evolution of a national economy as being one of maintaining wealth. but with regards to growing wealth and increasing value(as measured by gdp), japan has been stagnant for 20 years. no amount of monetary/fiscal stimulus will change the fact that the workforce is shrinking rapidly every year and reducing the growth potential.

            beg to differ. their financial problems are almost totally exacerbated by their old people. you could argue that wasteful infrastructure spending hasn’t helped but that was largely earlier on in the lost decades.

          • niga jael jal na ga

            Mmm I understand this. I’m not too sure about the case of what Japan is doing. I think if the government with a country of an ageing population was to change policy such as investing pensions into the health and medicine sector to increase health (I don’t know if that is possible) drop a “retirement” age and encourage jobs to be knowledge/experience based rather than having plenty of zero contact jobs around, encourage more volunteering in society. .. like it all seems utopian or how much of it is being done already, I know but the fact that over the last 100years the age expectancy has hiked up about 25 years in the world north of the brandt line shows we are capable of adaption. It’s whether your team malthus or boserup I guess.

          • homie

            Japan isn’t looking too bad now because the elderly have amassed a lot of healthy savings from their past in which the younger generation can fall back to when things get hairy.

            However, Korean elderly have spent all their savings on educating their kids (with false anti-Japanese fictional tales), and now both the elderly have no savings, and the young are unable to find work to fend themselves, so they are both engaged in a vicious circle of fighting over whatever scraps that are left.

            Korea should be left to fend for themselves. Japan should have nothing to do with them. Also, they can take back their Zainichi Koreans and the wealth they gained in Japan from pachinko parlors if they want.

          • Anxelli Alvarado

            Anti-Japanese rhetoric rarely happens anymore, many young Koreans are interested in Japanese pop culture and many Koreans visit Japan during vacations. This isn’t the 1970s anymore.

            “Japan can provide Koreans to take back their Zainichi Koreans (Who have been intentionally dodging national military service while being in Japan)”

            This is so false, because Zainichi Koreans are Koreans born in Japan and have families who have been living there since the 1940s. Koreans born overseas don’t have to serve in the military so there’s no need for them to dodge military service.

  • Afnan Acchan

    Korea is going to become aging nation with low birth rate. In 20 years their demographic is going to look like Japan now.

    • takasar1

      10. not 20

      • homie

        5 years, because younger Koreans are more inclined to emigrate to US/EU than the Japanese than paying higher taxes to look after their aged.

  • The Teacher

    I have a Korean wife and we live here, we run a school. I can tell you first hand that we spent endless nights thinking about having children. We both love and want a child…But financial and social norms worry us. Keep in mind we are a triple income family with 4 savings accounts. Yet when we tallied up every cost, housing and bills ..etc…its like looking at a bottomless hole. We also looked at social aspects for our kid. Here is what we found.

    To rent a normal apartment you need at least $20,000 to deposit for a child suitable place. My wife and I had to put 30k in renting ours. To buy a 2 or 3 bedroom place at 1000 square feet its $100,000+ up front for only the down payment alone roughly 1/3 of final price.Things cost on average 30 percent more than the US in Korea. That includes Kia cars and cellphones, that’s right! US has cheaper Samsung and Kias then the original country its manufactured in. Education is ridicoulous..its built on mainly cramming a kids day full of afterschool academies which runs most people $1500 expense monthly. Public education is considered pretty sub par unless a your kid test into an elite school. Its pretty cut throat amoung young children in elementary school which leads to a lot of unhappiness in children. They suffer from depression often here. Even if we opted out of not sending our kid to academies there are literally no children playing on the playgrounds for them to.ake friends with. Wages are stagnating at average of $35,000/yr. in a household while prices for cost of living is skyrocketing. Its a beautiful country for couples but really hard for families. I hope this helps with insight into why many people here are opting out.

    • CCCP

      Ever consider moving your family to your country after you have a child, if it’s so problematic to raise one in Korea? In my country we have free education (from kindergarten to university) and free healthcare, so my wife and I didn’t hesitate to have a child, because by the time he is 3 years old (kindergarten age) we’ll just move over to my country and won’t have to worry about many of these issues.

      • The Teacher

        Yeah we have thought about going back to the US at first. But then we realized we will end up leaving my wife’s mother behind. The visa process to get her over would take too long for her to be living alone in Korea. We felt a bit guilty as we are the only family she has left.

        We both thought of how to make it work. So we built an entire school from scratch with all the money we saved so our future child will have a place to play with other kids and learn as well, in a less confined curriculum. So far our school has been a big success and Korean students and more open minded parents have actually enjoyed it. 1 year now and going strong. We ended up solving 3 problems by taking a huge risk. Moving anywhere in the world has its share of problems for us. For my wife and I, we just had to make due with what was set before us.

        • CCCP

          I see, I haven’t thought of that, my wife’s parents live with her older brother’s family, so we’re much freer to move around. In either case, your child can go to college in the US if he/she chooses to, thus avoiding a lot of the stress Koreans face when preparing for college there.

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