SEJONG – The number of South Koreans tying the knot fell for the third straight year in 2014, mainly due to fewer people in the marriageable age, government data showed Thursday.
According to the data by Statistics Korea, the number of marriages stood at 305,507 last year, down 5.4 percent from a year earlier. This followed a 0.6 percent on-year dip in 2012 and 1.3 percent fall in 2013. Last year’s numbers are the lowest tallied since 2003, when 302,503 people got married.
“The drop stemmed from fewer people in the marriageable age group along with a steady drop in Koreans marrying foreigners,” said Yoon Yean-ok, director of population statistics at the agency.
The decline comes as the average age of people getting married hit an all-time high last year, rising to 32.4 for men from 32.2 in the previous year. The average age for women rose to 29.8 from 29.6.
These ages are the highest since 1990, when the agency began to provide related marriage data. At that time, the average age for men to marry was 27.8, with women marrying at an average age of 24.8.
The data underscores concerns that a decline in the number of people getting married will result in fewer children down the road. A drop in childbirths can hurt a country’s growth potential and lead to a surge in welfare outlays because fewer young people will have to support a growing number of senior citizens.
The number of marriages between Koreans and foreigners stood at 23,316 last year, down 10.2 percent from the year before, when the total hit 25,963. These marriages accounted for 7.6 percent of the total number of people tying the knot last year.
Last year’s numbers mark the fourth year in a row that the number of marriages between Korean nationals and foreigners declined.
The data also showed that the number of divorced people totaled 115,510 last year, up 0.2 percent from a year earlier.
Married couples stayed together an average of 14.3 years before filing for divorce, according to the data.