Life satisfaction in Korea rises in 2021, still relatively low
Life satisfaction in Korea improved in 2021 due to the ending of the Covid-19 pandemic, though the country still ranks low in the OECD, according to Statistics Korea.
Among the 38 member states, only two — Colombia and Turkey — scored below Korea.
Dissatisfaction was especially high among the elderly, with many feeling lonely and suicide rates up. As Korea’s population is aging rapidly, the situation among the elderly has become a major social concern.
According to Statistics Korea on Monday, in 2021 life satisfaction in Korea was 6.3 on a scale of 0 to 10. That’s higher than the 6.0 in 2020.
The statistics agency noted that while daily life overall went through major changes caused by Covid-19 in 2020, there weren’t major changes in terms of life satisfaction.
The statistics agency in its report noted that some of the indicators that have dropped in the past have started to tick up.
Interpersonal trusts and employment are up. The levels returned to those similar to levels before Covid-19.
Obesity, traveling as well as social community participation were areas that went up although not to the level of years before the pandemic.
According to the OECD’s World Happiness Report, Korea’s life satisfaction averaged 5.9 between 2019 and 2021. That’s lower than the average 6.7 among the 38 OECD member countries.
Japan’s life satisfaction was even a bit higher at 6.0 during this time. Colombia was 5.8 and Turkey 4.7.
One of the biggest concerns has been associated with people that were vulnerable, including the elderly and young children. These are group of people that society has been unable to closely monitor due to the pandemic.
Koreans above 65 and living alone are 20.8 percent of the total, up from 19.8 percent in 2020.
“Among the elderly population, the most vulnerable are those living alone,” the statistics agency’s report noted. “Korea’s social guarantee system has not been developed as much as other advanced countries that have already experienced aging population.”
The report noted that as such family members including children are the most important social economic supporters of elderly.
The effect on the elderly shows up not only on the suicide rate but also in terms of social isolation.
In 2021 there were 13,352 people that committed suicide. That’s 26 people for every 100,000 people. That’s 0.3 more than in 2020.
According to the statistics agency, the number of people that committed suicide started to shrink after peaking at 31.7 people for every 100,000 people in 2011. However, that figure has gradually been on the rise since 2017.
The bigger concern is that there is a significant rise of people committing suicide among those 70 or older. For those in their 70s, every 41.8 people out of 100,000 committed suicide, while the figure went up to 61.3 for people aged 80 or older.
Suicide rose especially among older men aged.
Elderly felt more isolated socially than their younger counterparts.
In 2021, among people 19 or older, 34.1 percent said they felt socially isolated. That’s up from 27.7 percent in 2019.
These are people who say they have no person they can reach out to whether to ask for help with simple household chores or to simply talk.
Children that had experienced abuse rose to 502.2 cases for every 100,000 people in 2021 compared to 401.6 in 2020.
In 2021, there were 37,605 child abuse cases, up from 30,095 in 2020.
Korea ranked third highest among OECD countries by life expectancy.
In 2021 Korean life expectancy averaged 83.6 years, which is 0.1 years more than the previous year. The highest was Japan at 84.7 years followed by Switzerland at 84 years.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [email@example.com]