Only 2.7 out of 10 single women in their late 30s are likely to get married by the time they are 50, meaning the rest are going to stay single for the rest of their lives.
The Chosun Ilbo analyzed the census and other population data from Statistics Korea and estimated that 12.6 percent of women in their late 30s, or 254,000 women, were single as of 2010. Some 18.5 percent of those are expected to get married in their early 40s and 27.2 percent in their early 50s.
But 185,000 are expected to stay single beyond the age of 50. This is due to a significant drop in the percentage of women getting married after they hit their late 30s.
Out of 258,600 women who got married last year, 12,700 were in their late 30s and 2,400 in their 40s. Experts point out that men tend to prefer younger women because they may want children. "Most single women in their late 30s are university graduates, and have difficulty finding a partner to match them, leading to the low marriage rate," said one expert.
Things do not look promising for women in their early 30s either. Currently, 534,000 women in this age group or 29 percent are unmarried, and 220,000 of them are expected to stay single beyond the age of 50.
Cho Young-tae of Seoul National University, said, "Many single women nowadays are high earners with high educational background. They tend to remain single unless they find their ideal partner who is their match at least in some areas."
Among single men, 323,000 out of 574,000 in their late 30s are also likely to stay single into their 50s. An estimated 16.8 percent of men in their early 30s and 13.9 percent in their late 30s will never marry.
They are the baby boomers born at a time when over 900,000 children were born each year. They struggle to find their partners because there simply are not enough younger women.
Lee Sang-lim at Korea Institute of Health and Social Affairs said, "The increase in the number of singles adversely affects the birthrate, and rising numbers of single person households will create serious social problems such as poverty and solitary death in later life."