Sunday, September 13, 2009

When I'm sixty-four

The New York Times has an interesting piece on how the crumbling of South Korea's traditional family responsibilities (that would call for the oldest son to take care of his elderly parents, helped by his wife who may end up doing most of the work) have led to an explosion of over-sixty jobseekers, often with government help:
Silver job fairs, established to find jobs for people 60 and older, have mushroomed across South Korea in the past year as part of a government effort to assist a rapidly growing population of older Koreans adrift in a changing society.

Until recently, the notion of older people having to look for jobs did not cross the minds of most South Koreans. The traditions of Confucianism hold that adult children should take primary responsibility for the care of their aging parents, who would enjoy respect and high status as sovereigns of the household.

But this practice is crumbling under the weight of longer life spans and changes in family structure, and many Koreans are entering the later stages of their lives unprepared. A government survey released in July found that fewer than 27 percent of Koreans 60 and older had made any provision for their post-retirement years beyond investing in their children’s education.

Now, many of these older Koreans are dismayed to find themselves dependent on their children, often in cramped urban settings, with very different priorities. These days, if adult children are willing to take in elderly parents, they often make it clear that they expect those parents to do household chores and look after the grandchildren, prospects that can make the parents think twice about moving in.

According to the National Statistics Office, 48.3 percent of South Koreans 65 and older were living with their children in 2007, compared with 72.4 percent in 1990.
These are the fun things we get to talk about in the demography classes I take here in Hawaii, where there is always a heavy emphasis on East Asia, particularly Japan and South Korea.

And of course, Monster Island denizens are already familiar with this topic, including the senior citizen subway couriers.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share your thoughts, but please be kind and respectful. My mom reads this blog.