SEJONG, April 13 (Korea Bizwire) – One-member households are projected to increase sharply over the next few decades as rapid demographic changes speed up a trend toward smaller family units, a government report showed Thursday.
Households consisting of a single member will reach 8.1 million in 2045, accounting for 36.3 percent of the total families in 2045, up from 27.2 percent tallied in 2015, according to the report by Statistics Korea. The forecast is based on the 2015 census, added the statistics agency.
Two-member family units closely came in second with a percentage of 35 percent in 2045, followed by three-person households with 19.8 percent and the conventional four-member homes making up just 7.4 percent of the total.
The percentage of one-person families has been on a sharp rise for decades, piercing the 20 percent mark in 2005 for the first time. It was 4.8 percent in 1980.
“Years ago, an extended family was divided into a nuclear family as rural people moved to urban areas. Now, an increasing number of young people are leaving their families amid a late-marriage trend,” said Lee Ji-yeon from the statistics office. “From now on, the rise in the number of single-person families will be accelerated by rapid aging. Old couples will start living alone after losing their spouses.”
Homes with a single member over 65 will reach 3.72 million units in 2045, up 3.1 times from just 1.2 million in 2015, reflecting the rapid aging of the population.
According to a separate study, the number of South Koreans over 65 accounted for 13.2 percent of the country’s population in 2016, and the ratio of people aged over 65 could reach 24.5 percent of the population by 2030 before hitting 41 percent by 2060.
The statistics report also showed the total number of households in South Korea is expected to peak at 22.3 million in 2043 and start to decline in the following year.
Meanwhile, the nation’s overall population is expected to decrease from 2031, when the number is forecast to reach 52.96 million.
“The pace of family divisions and downsizing will be faster than that of a decline in the total population until 2043,” the official said. “But a decade later, the number of families will also go downwards.”
As a result, the average number of people making up a household will likely drop to 2.1 in 2045 from 2.35 in 2015.