Volume 32 - Article 47 | Pages 1299–1328  

The problem group? Psychological wellbeing of unmarried people living alone in the Republic of Korea

By Jeong Hwa Ho

This article is part of the Special Collection 15 "Living Alone: One-person households in Asia"

Abstract

Background: The number of unmarried one-person households has increased rapidly among young adults living in the Republic of Korea since 2000. How this rise in solo living is related to psychological wellbeing is of importance to both individuals and society as a whole.

Objective: This study examined how living alone is related to psychological wellbeing and how this association differs across attitudes toward marriage among young adults aged 25-39.

Methods: We relied on repeated cross-sectional data from the Korea Social Survey (2010 and 2012) to compare unmarried solo residents to both unmarried and married individuals living with family members. Psychological wellbeing was measured in terms of life satisfaction and suicidal ideation over the past twelve months.

Results: In general, unmarried solo residents experienced greater life satisfaction than did unmarried family coresidents. Of those with a positive attitude toward marriage, unmarried solo residents had lower life satisfaction than did married family coresidents. For those with a non-positive attitude toward marriage, however, there was no difference in the level of life satisfaction between unmarried solo residents and married family coresidents. Suicidal ideation did not differ by living arrangement.

Conclusions: Unmarried solo living does not necessarily relate to lower psychological wellbeing among young adults in Korea. Life stage and attitudes toward marriage should be considered when examining the association between living arrangements and psychological wellbeing.

Author's Affiliation

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