South Koreans are losing interest in marriage that some have forgone dating altogether, a new report suggests.
Only three to four in 10 South Koreans between the ages of 20 and 44 are dating, with the employed being more likely to do so than the unemployed.
Meanwhile, 30% of women aged 30 to 34 dated, while 21% between 35 and 39 did.
Figures of marriages are even lower: single men aged 25 to 29 increased from 64% in 1995 to 90% in 2015, while single women in the same age group rose from 30% to 77% in the same period.
The same trend emerged in older age groups: those aged 30 to 34 and 35 to 39 increased from 19% to 56%, while those aged 40 to 45 rose from 7% to 33%.
Interestingly, the report found that men with a higher level of education dated more, while women with a similar achievement dated less.
And while no men without any income dated, 21% of women who had no money did.
Having the lowest birth rate in the world, South Korea is on its way to a demographic time bomb, facing “natural extinction by 2750,” according to a government study published in 2014.
By the end of 2018, its birth rate dropped to 0.95, which means only 95 children are born to every 100 women — and a rate of 2.1 is required to maintain a stable population.
About a third of the South Korean population will be at least 65 years old by 2030, according to estimates.
Common factors surface as South Koreans explain their reasons for opting out of dating: economic burden and attention to work or studies. Additionally, many women believe that building a family does not only incur financial but social costs in the patriarchal country — balancing work to become wives, mothers and daughters-in-law.
“Many women are aware of the unfairness they face after marriage,” a 32-year-old female freelancer in Seoul told the South China Morning Post. “These days, some women will even officially announce their plans to stay single and childless for the rest of their lives.”
To curb its problems, the South Korean government has offered to pay couples — including the richest 10% — up to $270 a month
to have more children. And with regard to the concern of time in child-rearing, those with children below eight years old are now allowed to work one less hour a day.