Friday, September 23, 2011

Childless Marriages and the Future

Childless  marriages are now in vogue in Korea, a country with a great love for children. A novel written a few years ago tells the story of two young people wanting to be together but not wanting to be in a committed relationship. After dating for seven years they finally  decide to marry and then decide to divorce  seven months later. His dog, he said, was to take the place of children. An editorial writer in the Chosun Daily discusses the novel's plot and its implications for the future health of our society.

The court report of marriages last year shows that 46 percent of the 116,800 divorces had no children. This is the largest number of childless marriages ending in divorce recorded in Korea. The percentage of marriages with one or two children that ended in divorce was 25 percent; those who divorced with over three children was 4 percent. The biggest reason for divorce, according to the writer, was  the difference in temperament and money problems.

The ease of  childless couples divorcing is  part of the present reality. As divorces become more frequent so are remarriages. The number of remarriages in 1990 was 4.7 percent; in 2009 it increased to  12.8 percent. The number of divorced women who are marrying men with no previous marriage has increased three times from what it was 19 years ago. It shows this is no longer  a problem in society.

Of the total  number of households, 24.4 percent had no children, for the first time outnumbering households with four family members, 22.5 percent.

A recent survey of 500 workers to determine the state of happiness of married couples found that childless couples registered 74, on a scale of 100, which was 63.6 points higher than those with children. Those without children do not consider children necessary for happiness. And to accommodate the increasing number of childless couples, apartments  are being built with no rooms for children but with rooms to enjoy the companionship of friends and with places to party.

Although most young couples are living with some money problems, the offer of the government of subsidies for children is not attractive to them. If this trend of childless marriages continues, in the year 2050 the number of elderly in the country will be 62.9 percent of the total population. And those able to work will be few and the cost of welfare will increase. We will soon be asking, who will be around to feed the cow?

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