The latest census unveiled on Monday by Statistics Korea show seismic changes in society, where university graduates now outnumber those with only a high-school education. They also show that jeonse or Korean-style deposit leases is on its way out and being replaced by monthly rental contracts.
◆ Surge in University Graduates
As of November of last year, there were 15.1 million university graduates in Korea, up 2.67 million from 2010. Those with university degrees outnumber high-school graduates for the first time ever.
As recently as 1995, the proportion of university graduates stood at only 20 percent, but it hit 38 percent last year or 12.6 million, 530,000 more than those with only high-school diplomas.
As the number of highly educated people rises, the average years of education people over 30 have behind them rose from 10.2 in 2000 to 12 in 2015.
Koreans no longer send only their sons to university. Among people in their 70s, the ratio of male to female university graduates stood at 8:2, but it fell to 1:1 among those in their 30s.
◆ Monthly Rent vs. Jeonse
More Koreans now pay monthly rent for their homes than those who put down a one-time traditional deposit. As of last year, 22.9 percent of all households lived in rental homes while only 15.5 percent had paid jeonse. In 2005, the ratio was still the other way round with 17.2 percent to 22.4 percent.
The rise in monthly rent is due to record-low interest rates, which prompt landlords to look for a better rate of return.
Also, a sharp surge in jeonse prices in recent years means more people prefer to buy their homes outright. The proportion of home owners rose 2.6 percent from 2010 to 56.8 percent in 2015. There was a marked rise among people in their 30s and 40s buying their own homes.
In Seoul the proportion of homeowners was relatively low at 42.1 percent due to higher real estate prices and more mobility in the capital. But in rural South Jeolla Province the proportion of home owners stood at 73.4 percent.
◆ More Working Senior Citizens
Among senior citizens over 60, 49.7 percent earned their own income last year, up 5.1 percentage points compared to five years earlier.
The proportion who depend on their children for their livelihood fell 8.7 percentage points to 10.1 percent. Only eight percent of elderly people with university degrees rely on their children for their livelihood.
◆ Becoming Less Sociable
Koreans are less sociable. The proportion who take part in social activities like clubs and civic groups fell from 33.7 percent in 2005 to 31.1 percent last year.
Those in their 30s saw the largest decrease of 4.9 percentage points to 27.9 percent, while the most socially active were people in their 50s with 38.3 percent. Some 17 percent joined hobby clubs followed by art clubs (9.2 percent) and religious groups (7.5 percent).