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Nearly 20 pct. of Koreans classified as 'impoverished': report

2012/12/23 Source

Nearly 20 percent of Koreans belong to the impoverished group, statistical data released Thursday showed, with more than half of single-member households and those aged 65 or older categorized in the poor strata.

In comparison, about half of the income earned by all households was earned by the top 20 percent of the income bracket, reflecting lingering economic polarization.

According to the results of a 2012 household finances and welfare survey released by Statistics Korea, the poverty ratio based on 2011 disposable income was 16.5 percent. The ratio measures the portion of the population who earn half of the median disposable income. These people make less than 9.98 million won (9,300 U.S. dollars) per year.

The poverty ratio of households with people aged 65 or older was 67.3 percent, as they accounted for the largest portion, while that of single-member households was 50.1 percent.

The portions of income earned by income brackets showed that the top 20 percentile took up 47.6 percent of all household income, meaning that the percentile earned nearly half of the income earned by the entire population.

Annual average per-household spending last year came to 30.69 million won (28,600 dollars). The first through third brackets, or the mid- to low-income groups of the five income brackets, spent more on food and housing, while the fourth and fifth spent more on food and education.

Notably, the fifth bracket spent 8.68 million won (8,100 dollars) on education, 28 times the amount spent by the first bracket of 310,000 won (290 dollars).

As of late March this year, net household asset, or the average assets of all households subtracted by household debts, stood at 262.03 million won (244,000 dollars), up 6.7 percent from the previous year. Households with net assets of 300 million won (279,000 dollars) or less accounted for 71.1 percent of the population, while those with more than 1 billion won (930,000 dollars) in net assets comprised 4.2 percent.

The fifth bracket posted 607.56 million won (565,000 dollars) in net assets, up 14.1 percent from 532.58 million won (495,700 dollars) recorded in the previous year. In contrast, the first bracket, who belong to the lowest 20 percentile of the five income groups, posted 89.17 million won (83,000 dollars) in net assets, down 5.1 percent.

About 70 percent of household assets was in real estate. Housing accounted for 38.2 percent of all assets, while real estate other than housing came to 31.2 percent, suggesting that property accounted for 69.4 percent of all household assets.

Other assets included savings with 17.9 percent, deposits for jeonse, or a lump sum refundable deposit used to rent a home, with 7 percent, and other tangible assets including cars with 5.1 percent.

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