The Korea Herald


Seoulites marry later than any other region in S. Korea

By Yoon Min-sik

Published : March 20, 2024 - 12:08

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Recent statistics from a state-run agency showed that people living in Seoul marry later than residents of any other region in South Korea, a possible indication of challenges presented by the high cost of living and housing in the nation's capital.

Men living in Seoul, on average, had their first marriage at 34.4 years of age in 2023, while the first marriage for women in the region happened when they were 32.4-years-old, according to Statistics Korea. The average first marriage age for men in Seoul was 0.4 years higher than the national average of 34, while the figure for women in Seoul was 0.9 years higher than the national average of 31.5.

The regions with the next highest age for first marriage for men were Busan and Jeju Island, both 34.3; North Jeolla Province, 34.1; South Jeolla Province, 34; and Sejong City, 33.9. For women, it was Busan at 32, Sejong at 31.8, Jeju Island at 31.7, South Gyeongsang Province at 31.3, and North Gyeongsang Province at 31.1.

The region with lowest marriage age for men was North Chungcheong Province and the city of Ulsan, which were both 33.4. For women, it was north Chungcheong Province and South Jeolla Province at 30.8 years, which was 1.6 years lower than that for women living in Seoul.

The average age for first marriages has been on an upward trajectory for both genders in the past 10 years, since marking 32.2 for men and 29.6 for women in 2013.

"The average age for first marriages generally tends to be higher in Seoul (than other regions) every year. ... While we haven't figured out the exact correlation, we figure it is closely linked to high cost of living and housing," an official from Statistics Korea said.

Reports indicate that finances are the biggest hurdles for marriage among South Koreans. A December report by Statistics Korea showed that 33.7 percent of the respondents picked "not having sufficient funds" as why they do not get married, followed by "not necessary" at 17.3 percent, and "pressure of having and raising a child" at 11 percent.

Local think-tank Korean Peninsula Population Institute for the Future conducted a survey last year of 1,408 adults across the country which showed that 12.6 percent of the respondents are postponing marriage because of obstacles. When asked what those obstacles were, 37.9 percent cited "not enough income or financial instability."