February 26, 2015 08:46
Couples are living longer as life expectancy increases, leading to new lifestyle patterns and spawning an entirely new powerful consumer group.
These couples are not only financially independent but enjoy an active love life after marrying their children off. While a rise in the number of senior citizens living alone in poverty has emerged as a social problem in recent years, another group of senior citizens is living healthier and longer lives than people in their age group did in the past.
This group now boasts the level of physical activity middle-aged people showed in the past.
According to the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, the proportion of couples aged 60 to 75 living together without their children rose from 17 percent in 1985 to 48 percent in 2011.
In 1985, there were only 190,000 couples in the category, but by 2011 there were 2.6 million, reaching an estimated 3.1 million this year. Couples in the class have to spend much more time together than they did in the past as people are retiring earlier while the average life expectancy is increasing.
The remaining life expectancy of a man in his 60s was 14 years on average in 1985, but that has increased to 22 years. That means a couple that turns 60s will live another 22 years together. And the average retirement age changed from 55 in 1985 to 53 nowadays, so couples will have to spend 29 more years getting along together after retiring.
These couples are also different from their predecessors in terms of their values. Many of them have no intention of turning to their children for support, nor do they feel obliged to leave them their entire assets while they scrimp and save. They are more sexually active than their predecessors too, and tend to look for new mates if they are widowed or divorced.
According to a survey the Chosun Ilbo conducted with matchmaking firm Sunwoo, 49 percent of respondents between 60 and 75 said they favor meeting another mate after being widowed or divorced.
Lee Yoon-kyung at KIHASA said, "In the past, couples in their twilight years depended on their children, but now 50 percent of couples in that age group prefer to live their own lives, and most of them are financially independent, growing into one of the newest consumer groups in Korean society."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com