Thursday, July 30, 2009

Confucian values?

The household savings rate in South Korea will have plummeted from a world-beating 25.2 percent in 1988 to a projected world low of 3.2 percent in 2010, according to the OECD. ... Meanwhile, household debt as a percentage of individual disposable income has risen to 140 percent, higher than in the United States (136 percent), according to the Bank of Korea. ...

South Koreans work more, sleep less and kill themselves at a higher rate than citizens of any other developed country, according to the OECD. They rank first in time spent online and second to last in spending on recreation, and the per capita birthrate scrapes the bottom of world rankings. By 2050, South Korea will be the most aged society in the world, narrowly edging out Japan, according to the OECD. ...

An obsessive pursuit of educational achievement, it seems, is one of the driving forces behind the low savings rate. About 80 percent of all students from elementary age to high school attend after-school cram courses. About 6 percent of the country's gross domestic product is spent on education, more than double the percentage of spending in the United States, Japan or Britain.
--Blaine Harden, Washington Post, on "a society under extraordinary stress." HT: Marginal Revolution

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