More Mature Couples Care for Parents and Children


One in three households in their 50s and 60s shoulders the burden of care for both adult children and elderly parents. In a recent survey of 2,001 men and women aged 50-69 who have adult children and at least one parent by securities company Mirae Asset, some 34.5 percent said they have to take care of both children and parents.

The trend is due to increasing life expectancy and low economic growth, which has led to record youth unemployment and more precarious jobs.

"Parents of those in their 50s and 60s are in the blind spot of the national pension system that was introduced in 1988," Mirae Asset said. "As life expectancy increases, those in their 50s and 60s have to take care of their elderly parents at their own cost."

At the same time, their adult children have trouble achieving economic independence as youth unemployment approaches 10 percent.

These households are spending roughly 20 percent of their income on adult children and elderly parents per month. The average they gave to their children was W780,000 and their parents W400,000 (US$1=W1,067). This means they are spending almost all their disposable income, which as a rule of thumb is 30 percent of what they earn, looking after their dependents.

One in two such households has to take care of sick elderly parents and spend 30 percent of their monthly income on children and parents with the added medical bills. For many this is also a psychological burden because they feel they can barely afford it or regret having to send their ailing parents to nursing homes.

The costs are spiraling. It costs an estimated W100 million to send a child to college, according to a survey by Shinhan Bank of 20,000 customers. But that investment pays off less and less as the highly educated young people struggle to find jobs that pay a living wage.

One in three entry-level employees in their 20s and 30s who landed jobs in the last three years are still getting support from their parents. Their average monthly pay is W1.96 million but they spend W1.99 million a month. About half of singles in their 30s still live with their parents.

Some households are even burdened with care including their grandchildren. As a result they find it impossible to save up for their own retirement.

One in three workers over 50 is not saving for retirement. The proportion of dual-income families who still get child-rearing support from their parents jumped from 23.6 percent in 2004 to 53 percent in 2014.