Singles to form one-third of households in Seoul in 2040
WHEN you visit Seoul some 25 years from now, it is more likely that you will run into a resident who is living alone or with just another person, rather than someone from a big household or with children in tow.
Welcome to the South Korean capital in 2040, the year its population, according to a report by the Global Future Research Centre, would have dropped to about 9.2 million, 1.1 million fewer than now.
The complete report by the centre, an affiliate of the state-owned Seoul Institute, is to be released today.
In 2040, 30 per cent of Seoul's 4.1 million households will consist of only one person, and another 32 per cent of just two, the report forecasts.
The prediction is based on a number of trends in the city, in particular falling birth rate. The number of women of child-bearing age is expected to drop to about 960,000 over the next two decades from the current 1.5 million.
Also, more women in Seoul are already choosing not to marry or have kids as they find economic independence, noted Byeon Mi Ri, the chief of the centre.
Other reasons include a rise in the number of divorcees and elderly people whose spouse has passed away.
There will also be many young Seoulites who cannot start a family as it is hard to find a stable job, said Ms Byeon.
According to state-owned agency Statistics Korea, by 2040, about two in five Seoulites will be above 65.
There will be more "live-alone" elderly people in the city, as the life expectancy of men will rise to about 79 and women, 85.
Meanwhile, the group between ages of 15 and 64 will shrink to about 5.45 million, from the current 7.5 million.
Seoul's median age then will also jump to 52, from 39 now.
The contraction of the working group will lead to an economic slump for the capital city.
Another factor leading to undersized households is an exodus of families who find the capital over-populated and too expensive to live in, Ms Byeon pointed out.
Many prefer to settle in Gyeonggi Province just outside Seoul or the city of Incheon - both of which are constituents of the greater capital region, said Ms Byeon.