Most Koreans to Leave Equal Inheritance to All Children

January 15, 2013 12:58

In another sign of fast-changing attitudes in Korean society, favoritism toward first-born sons appears on the wane. Almost seven out of 10 people over 50 say they will bequeath equal parts of their wealth to their sons and daughters, according to a survey by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.

The institute questioned 1,000 people over 50 in September of last year and found that 65.8 percent intend to leave an equal inheritance to all their children.

Some 15 percent said they will leave the lion's share to their eldest son, while 5.3 percent said only those children who are good to their parents would get an inheritance. Only 4.8 percent said the eldest son will inherit alone, while 2.2 percent said only sons will inherit but not daughters. Some 6.9 percent said they will leave everything to charity.

Also, 40.9 percent said they plan to hand over their inheritance before they die, while only 23.5 percent said they will leave it in a will.

The survey shows a marked shift in attitudes from eight years ago. Compared to a 2004 survey by KIHASA narrowing the age of respondents to 65 or older and adjusting weighted value to make up for the difference in respondent numbers, the proportion who wanted to bequeath equal shares to all their children nearly doubled from 36.7 percent to 63.9 percent.

In contrast, the proportion who were to leave their assets only to the eldest son fell from 41 percent to 7.8 percent.

"As highly-educated middle-aged people with a strong sense of gender equality enter the 50-plus age group, we seem to be seeing a shift in thinking," said Kim Hyun-shik at KIHASA. "As Koreans have fewer children and see incomes rise, society is changing and embracing an egalitarian culture just like advanced countries."

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