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Over half of middle-aged people indebted in 2020

National 13:20 December 21, 2021

SEOUL, Dec. 21 (Yonhap) -- More than half of South Koreans aged between 40 and 64 held debt last year as more people took out loans to buy homes amid skyrocketing housing prices, data showed Tuesday.

The data by Statistics Korea showed that 56.5 percent of people in the age group borrowed money from banks or other financial institutes last year, up 0.2 percentage point from the previous year.

The amount of their median debt reached 52 million won (US$43,600) last year, up 7.1 percent from a year earlier. Median debt is a mid-point debt that divides such people into two equal groups.

For those who possess homes, the median debt jumped to 98.4 million won in 2020, more than three times the 27.8 million won for those who do not own homes, the data showed.

This means their indebtedness increased as they took out loans to buy homes.

This file photo, taken Nov. 10, 2021, shows bank officials handling loan programs at a bank in Seoul. (Yonhap)

South Korea's housing prices have sharply risen in recent years as people rushed to lend money from banks to buy homes in anticipation of higher price hikes.

The country's household debt has been repeatedly cited as the main drag on Asia's fourth-largest economy, as households' high indebtedness is feared to curb domestic demand and thus crimp economic growth.

Household credit came to a record high of 1,844.9 trillion won as of end-September, up 36.7 trillion won from three months earlier, according to central bank data.

The statistics agency said middle-aged people reached 20.09 million as of Nov. 1, 2020, accounting for 40.1 percent of the country's 52 million population.

They earned a yearly average of 36.92 million won last year, up 3.8 percent from the previous year. It said 8.67 million middle-aged people, or 43.1 percent, owned houses as of Nov. 1, up from 42.6 percent a year earlier.

The number of households that consist of people aged 40-64 as breadwinners reached 13.24 million last year, accounting for 63.2 percent of all households.

Of the 11.3 million households, 57.4 percent lived with their children. Among their children aged 19 and older, 48.4 percent, or 2.45 million, were unemployed as of October last year. Some 320,000 children were aged 30 and older.

Separate data showed more than half of unmarried South Koreans in their 30s are living with their parents without moving out on their own, called a "kangaroo tribe"

Kangaroo tribe is a local term that refers to people who depend on their parents financially and emotionally even as they become old enough to leave their parents' homes.


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