July 30, 2011 08:15
More and more men live with their wife's parents for economic reasons, according to a survey by Statistics Korea published Sunday. Their number increased three-fold from 18,088 in 1990 to 53,675 in 2010. By contrast, the number of women who live with their parents-in-law dropped by more than half from 444,634 in 1990 to 198,656 in 2010.
The report reflects only cases where in-laws take responsibility for, and make decisions on, the livelihood of their family, including their sons- or daughters-in-law.
The number of men who live near their in-laws' homes is also increasing, giving rise to what some experts already describe as a "neo-matriarchal" society.
Childcare is one of the biggest reasons for the phenomenon. Hyun Taek-soo, a professor of sociology at Korea University, said, "When women take nearly all the responsibilities for childcare, it is more convenient for them to live in their own parents' homes, because there they only have to take care of their children, rather than living with their husband's parents, where they have to pay attention to both their in-laws and their children."
Another important reason is that women now have more say in the family because they work. The number of female breadwinners increased 1.5-fold from 1.79 million in 1990 to 4.5 million last year.
That has led to different feelings among young people about living with parents-in-law. According to a survey conducted by the job portal website Albamon last year, some 64.1 percent of male college students said they would live with their future wife's parents. But a mere 36.5 percent of female students said they are willing to live with their future parents-in-law.
Kim Joong-baeck, a professor of sociology at Kyunghee University, said this shows that people's perceptions of traditional gender roles are changing.
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