According to the Korea National Statistical Office, South Korea recorded a quality of life index of 111.8 in 2015 with respect to the reference year and value of 2006 and 100. During the same period, South Korea’s GDP per capita increased 28.6%, which means South Koreans’ quality of life improved at a rate of 40% of the rate at which their GDP increased.
The quality of life in terms of family life and community life fell 1.4% to show the most negative result in the 12 categories of the survey conducted by the office. This can be attributed to an increase in suicide rate from 21.8 to 26.5 persons per 100,000 people, increase in the ratio of senior citizens who live alone and increase in the number of divorces.
The quality of life in terms of employment and wage improved by 3.2%, 8.6 percentage points less than the overall average. This is because job satisfaction fell from 26.6% to 25.2% between 2009 and 2015 while the rate of employment and earned income rose only to a slight extent. The indices improved by 7.2% and 5.2% when it comes to health and dwelling, respectively.
Meanwhile, the rate of improvement was as high as 23.9% in education, 22.2% in safety and security, 16.5% in income and consumption and 16.3% in social welfare. In education, completion of higher education rose from 32.9% to 45.5% and the ratio of infants provided with infant education rose from 77% to 92.1%. In safety and security, the number of violent crimes per 100,000 people decreased from 556.6 to 550.8 and the road fatalities fell from 13 to 9.1.
“This survey shows that quantitative economic growth does not necessarily lead to a better quality of life of individuals,” said sociology professor Kim Suk-ho at Seoul National University, who participated in the development of the index, adding, “More policy efforts are required so that the people can actually feel a higher level of improvement in the fields of family life, community life, employment, etc.”