August 27, 2009 09:43
Many Korean women believe that husbands should be responsible for supporting the family as the main bread-winner, while wives should take care of household spending.
It's no surprise, then, that white-collar workers with finance-savvy wives are much envied. In a survey of attitudes toward retirement plans among Korean and Japanese women, jointly conducted by the Chosun Ilbo in cooperation with Fidelity International and the Hyundai Economic Research Institute, the same trend appeared evident: while many Korean women depend on their husbands to provide for them after retirement, Japanese women rely more on themselves to make a living.
◆ Korean Women More Reliant on Husbands
Korean and Japanese women both voted financial difficulties as the greatest source of concern after retirement. Some 76 percent of Korean women and 71.7 percent of Japanese women expressed anxiety over not saving enough before retirement. However, the second largest group of Korean women said they only felt vague apprehensions of possible financial instability in the future, a striking difference from a similar proportion of Japanese women who said they were concerned about shrinking pensions.
"Korean women tend to rely more on their husbands than Japanese women to leave behind some means of subsistence for their surviving family after their deaths," said Yi Chul-sun, a researcher at the Hyundai Economic Research Institute. "Their heavy financial dependence on their husbands often leaves Korean women with a bit more carefree attitude and less fear of the future."
Some 62.4 percent of married Korean women said they thought their husbands might plan some financial preparations for their surviving family after their deaths, as opposed to 39.2 percent of the Japanese women who said the same. But 67.8 percent of Korean women said they had not even discussed such plans with their husbands.
"Husbands and wives must work together if they hope to set up a successful and sound post-retirement financial plan," said Kim Eun-jung, head of the private banking department at Shinhan Bank. She cited, as an example, that prudent wives can keep their husbands from going astray or getting lured by get-rich-quick schemes.
◆ Japanese Women More Investment-Savvy
The difference between the two groups was also evident when making financial plans for retirement. About 54.8 percent of Japanese women said they made their own independent decisions on investing, but 42.2 percent of Korean women chose to consult with their husbands or entrust all such decisions to them. For this reason, about 26.3 percent of Korean women did not hold any financial assets in their names.
"Women must consider the possibility of taking up the burden if their husbands should become unable to make money and make long-term plans to prepare for life after retirement," advised Lee Jae-gyung, an executive at the Samsung Securities investment consulting branch.
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