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[Opinion] Parents’ Allowance

Posted August. 09, 2005 03:07,   


In the first Buddhist scripture Sutta Nipata, Buddha teaches, “If you do not take care of your senile parents and live in selfish abundance, it is the road to perdition.” Translating into today’s words, it means that you will go to hell for not giving your unemployed parents allowance money. Due to the contiguous years of economic depression, it seems that negligent sons and daughters headed for hell are on the rise.

At the Catholic center for prevention of elderly abuse, it is said that there are more elderly who complain of economic abuse than physical abuse. The most common are those who refuse to send their decrepit parents even the minimal living expenses, and those who stealthily drain their parents’ assets and cut the ties. There are many cases of parents filing lawsuits against their children who have neglected filial duties. Just last year, a grandfather Lee filed for maintenance money from his son, saying it was impossible to live on the monthly 300,000 his son wired. The court decided the son wasn’t fulfilling his filial duties and seized provisionally his 70,000,000-worth of real estate.

The change in social economic conditions, however, renders it difficult to dispose of the responsibility of supporting elderly parents on their offspring. Because the average life span is stretching and early retirement lengthens the period of old age, the burden of supporting elderly parents is astronomically increasing. Most children worry for their parents, but the reality is that it’s a strenuous job. The problem of senility has long since become not just a family matter, but a societal glitch. The ultimate step is for the government to actively guarantee security for the old. In the U.S., the transfer payment alone takes up over 20 percent of the federal budget.

According to expenditure balance research by the National Statistical Office, the transfer income for the second quarter of this year was 124,000 won, a three percent decrease from the first quarter’s 127,700 won. Over 70 percent of the transfer income is the allowance sent to parents. As the economy finds itself in a slump, people find it hard to get on and cut back on their parents’ allowance. The crux of the matter is that the government’s capability for supporting the elderly is dwindling as the economy’s growth potential drops. If the government doesn’t want for all its citizens to become negligent sons and daughters, it has a responsibility to revive the economy with growth policies as its priority.

Lim Kyu-jin, Editorial Writer, mhjh22@donga.com