Preferences for Korean seniors housing

Publication Date01 Feb 2004
AuthorEuehun Lee,Karen M. Gibler
SubjectProperty management & built environment
Preferences for Korean
seniors housing
Euehun Lee
Information and Communications University,
Daejeon, Korea, and
Karen M. Gibler
Department of Real Estate, Georgia State University, Atlanta,
Georgia, USA
Keywords Elderly people, Social care facilities, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,
Residential homes, Demographics
Abstract The Republic of Korea is experiencing demographic, economic, and cultural changes
that may create demand for seniors housing in the coming decades. The population is rapidly
ageing; pension income is becoming more prevalent; and attitudes are changing about
co-residence. More people are expressing interest in housing that allows for privacy and
independence from family members. These changes indicate potential demand for alternatives
such as seniors housing. To help specify demand models for seniors housing in South Korea, a
survey of urban residents aged 50 and older is presented to identify preferences among those who
are planning to live in seniors housing. Results indicate higher income, healthy South Koreans are
more likely to plan to live in seniors housing. They are interested in housing that provides personal
care, home care, social, and security services, without the financial and physical maintenance
burden of a traditional home.
Asian countries experiencing rapid aging of their populations face many
important issues regarding housing. Who will provide financial support for
aging Koreans’ housing and care in their later years? Will they depend on their
eldest son or will government designed and supported pension plans provide
sufficient economic support? How healthy will aging residents be and what level
of care will they require? Who will provide that care? Will the wife of the eldest son
continue to provide daily care for her in-laws in their home? Will seniors or their
families use insurance or savings to purchase formal care in the home or another
setting? Will older residents live with the eldest son’s family or maintain a
separate residence? Will aging residents live in traditional housing or housing
specifically designed for the elderly? Will they choose housing that integrates
supportive services or obtain those services separately? Will housing regulations
allow and support construction of specially designed seniors housing? In this
paper we will explain some of the changes occurring in the Republic of Korea
(South Korea) that are creating these concerns and relate them to the fledgling
The Emerald Research Register for this journal is available at The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
www.em earchregister www.em eraldinsight .com/1463-578X .htm
The authors would like to acknowledge Korea Sanhak Foundation for its support in collecting
the data for this paper.
Journal of Property Investment &
Vol. 22 No. 1, 2004
pp. 112-135
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/14635780410525171
field of seniors housing demand analysis. Seniors housing market analysis is
needed to understand and accurately estimate the future demand for such
facilities in order to guide government policies, capital funding, and development
decisions. Accurately estimating future demand amid shifting social, economic,
and political conditions requires study in several areas.
One area of needed research is forecasting growth in potential demand by
modeling population forecasts combined with economic, demographic, health,
and household composition characteristics, such as the work by Edelstein and
Lacayo (1998) in the US. However, gross estimates of eligible populations are
not sufficient to accurately measure effective demand for seniors housing
(Doctrow et al., 1999). As Wylde et al. (2000) report, many current assisted
living facility residents in the US were not included in estimates of the target
market because their incomes are not high enough relative to the cost of the
housing facility. Other sources of financial support such as family assistance
and spend down of assets must be identified to determine true purchasing
power (NIC, 1998).
In addition, as Edelstein and Lacayo (1998) point out, estimating demand for
seniors housing differs from traditional housing models in that such housing
often includes specialized services related to needs and wants not observed in
younger age groups. Needs are related to health status and lifestyle changes,
whereas wants are rooted in cultural, social, and economic issues that relate to
lifestyle changes. In specifying a demand model for seniors housing, housing
choices must be classified by the extent to which residents need care, want
nontraditional housing services, or choose to live independently. Thus,
effective demand will depend on age, financial resources, health, and housing
service preferences (Price Waterhouse, 1997).
Consumer interest and preferences regarding various housing options in
later life must be measured because differences in attitudes influence the
effective demand for seniors housing (Price Waterhouse, 1997). Consumers’
perceptions of seniors housing products, their attitudes about living
arrangements, and their housing preferences influence who will actually
move to seniors housing. Thus, understanding consumers’ perceptions,
attitudes, opinions, and preferences will lead to more accurate estimates of the
demand for seniors housing. However, analysis using such segmentation
variables requires collection of information directly from consumers via survey
techniques (Carn et al., 1988). Such primary data collection on the attitudes,
opinions, and preferences of South Korean consumers will lead to better
estimates of demand for the various types of seniors housing.
Previous research from other countries can be used as background for the
study of the demand for seniors housing in South Korea. However, results
derived in other cultures and economies may not be directly transferable,
requiring analysis of Korean consumers to determine how they differ in
perceptions, opinions, and preferences. As one step in this direction, this paper
Korean seniors

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