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Koreans Get Keener on Work-Life Balance

2019/12/01 | Permalink | Source

Korea's traditional hardworking ethos appears to be changing as a younger generation embrace the shorter working week and put quality of life above slaving for a corporation till they drop. But at the same time social mobility is disappearing, and many young people face a lifetime in dead-end jobs.

According to a survey by Statistics Korea on Monday, only 42.1 percent of employed people prioritize work over family, down 11.6 percentage points from 2015. Some 44.2 percent place equal importance on family and work, overtaking those who favor work for the first time and up 9.8 percentage points from 2015.

Statistics Korea said the latest figures reflect "a changing society".

Around half of respondents or 50.9 percent said yes when asked, "Do you trust Korean society?" and only 3.2 percent to a high degree. But younger people are losing confidence in Korean society, with 54.9 percent in their 20s and 51.5 percent in their 30s.

The result is that they are more reluctant to donate money to charity. The proportion who said they donated money to a good cause fell from 36.4 percent in 2011 to 25.6 percent this year, while the proportion who plan to make charitable contributions in the future fell from 45.8 percent to 39.9 percent.

A growing number are pessimistic about the prospect of ever climbing the social ladder. Only 28.9 percent felt that hard work alone would ensure that their children will be able to rise in socio-economic status, down from 48.3 percent in 2009. The survey also showed that the higher the social status of a respondent, the more they felt that their children will be able to climb the social ladder.

Some 48.6 percent of those who consider themselves comfortably off believed their children will have chance of rising socially, compared to only 21.5 percent among those who consider themselves poor.

Meanwhile, one in three Koreans is not preparing for old age. Only 34.9 percent of adults are making financial plans for retirement, though it slightly rose from 34.6 percent in 2017.

When asked why they are not preparing for retirement, 40.1 percent said simply do not have enough money to set aside. Some 33.7 percent said they plan to do so and 17.6 percent said they have not even started thinking about it.

Yet the proportion of senior citizens who rely financially on their children has declined from 31.4 percent in 2009 to 17.7 percent this year, while those who rely on government support increased from 8.6 percent to 12.4 percent over the same period.

Some 69.9 percent of senior citizens said either they themselves or their spouses support them financially, up from 60 percent in 2009.

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