SEOUL -- Among some 23.9 million households in South Korea with a population of about 51 million, about 42 percent consisted of people living alone, data released by South Korea's interior ministry showed. The ministry predicted the large proportion of single households was affected by a rising number of unmarried couples and elderly people who live alone.
According to data released by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, the number of South Korea's single households was 9,935,600 in December 2023, up 2.2 percent from a year ago. However, the proportion of families with four and five members has decreased. There were 3,148,835 four-member households in 2023, down 3.3 percent from 2022. The number of five-member households dropped to 743,232 in 2023, down 3.9 percent year-on-year.
Single-person households have been rapidly increasing in South Korea. Data released by the national statistics office showed that the proportion of single-person households that consist of people aged 65 and above is gradually increasing from 19 percent in 2017 to 21.1 percent in 2023. The number of South Koreans aged 65 or older reached 9.4 million in 2023.
The number of married couples is also consistently decreasing due to costly expenses and unstable employment. In 2022, around 191,700 South Korean couples got married, marking the lowest figure since 1970. Various government incentives including cash rewards have been offered to have more children, but many women are working and they wish to continue their career without interruption by giving birth.
"As the number of unmarried South Koreans and elderly people living alone increases, the proportion of single-person households appears to have surpassed 40 percent," an unnamed interior ministry was quoted as saying.
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