SEJONG, Nov. 6 (Korea Bizwire) – Less than half of South Koreans think marriage is a necessity as the country struggles with an alarmingly low birth rate and more people getting married later, data showed Tuesday.
The survey of 39,000 people over 13 years of age, by Statistics Korea, revealed 48.1 percent saying they want to tie the knot, down from 51.9 percent tallied two years earlier and 56.8 percent polled in 2014.
The findings also showed that some 56 percent of South Koreans answered that a couple can live without getting married, up sharply from 48 percent in 2016 and 46.6 percent in 2014.
The latest survey results are in line with recent developments centered on fewer babies being born in the country and a tendency for people to put off getting married.
As an increasing number of women pursue careers, they get married and have children at older ages, or give up on making a lasting commitment and having babies.
The average age that a woman had her first child was 32.6 last year, up from 32.4 years in 2016. Some 29.4 percent of first-time moms were over 35 years of age in 2017, up from 26.4 percent the year before.
The trend of declining births is not new in South Korea, where an increasing number of women work and want to follow their careers.
Based on the 2016 data, South Korea’s fertility rate was the lowest among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), followed by Spain and Italy, both with 1.34.
The average birthrate of OECD countries stood at 1.68 as of 2015.
The smoking rate for South Korean men aged 19 or older fell this year, a sign that the country’s strong anti-smoking campaign is taking effect.
The rate was 37.7 percent, down 1.4 percentage points from two years earlier.
In January 2015, South Korea increased the price of cigarettes by 80 percent, from 2,500 won (US$2.25) per pack to 4,500 won, in an effort to curb smoking.