New York, NY IMG HI 58° LO 56°
Home World's lowest fertility rate falls again in South Korea in 2023
World News

World's lowest fertility rate falls again in South Korea in 2023


Already having the lowest fertility rate in the world, South Korea's rate plunged even lower in 2023 as women chose to put off or abstain from having children out of fear for their future professional prospects and the financial burden of raising a family.

According to data released by Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the average number of children a South Korean woman should have during her reproductive years dropped to a record low of 0.72 from 0.78 in 2022.

That is significantly less than the 2.1 per woman required for a stable population and much less than the 1.24 rate in 2015 when concerns about housing and education costs were lower.

Despite spending billions of dollars trying to stop the trend that would cause the population to decline for a fourth consecutive year in 2023South Korea has been the only Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member with a rate below 1. This distinction has existed since 2018.

Because women in South Korea earn roughly two-thirds less than men, the country also has the worst gender pay gap in the OECD.

According to Seoul Women's University professor Jung Jae-hoon, "women typically can't build on their experience to climb higher at workplaces because they are often...the only ones doing the childcare (and) often need to re-join the workforce after extended leaves."

"It is my goal to have a child, but there are opportunities for advancement and I don't want to miss out," stated 34-year-old Gwak Tae-hee, a junior manager at a Korean dairy product company who has been married for three years.

Last yearGwak thought about undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) to try to conceive, but she ultimately decided to volunteer for work projects to advance her professional opportunities.

"Working two or three days a week doesn't get you anywhere in Korean companies—I'm not sure about elsewhere. When I try again the following year or the year after, I hope it won't be too late "said Gwak.

The 51 million people living in South Korea are expected to drop by half by the end of the century, making the country's demographic crisis the biggest threat to economic expansion and the social welfare system.

According to earlier projectionsSouth Korea's fertility rate is expected to decline even further, to 0.68 in 2024. With the highest housing costs in the nation, Seoul, the capital, has the lowest fertility rate (0.55).

To allay fears of "national extinction" as fertility rates collapse, South Korea's major political parties pledged more public housing and easier loans to encourage childbirth before April's elections.

In South Koreamarriage is becoming less common, even though getting married is still seen as a requirement for having children there.

Without providing further details, a Statistics Korea official stated at a briefing, "There are people who don't get married but we think about why married couples choose not to have babies, and my understanding is that addressing that part is going to be the focus of our policies (to boost the birth rate)."

The parties' emphasis on population in their election platforms reflects growing concern that record low fertility rates, despite spending over 360 trillion won ($270 billion) on childcare subsidies since 2006, have yet to be reversed.

South Korea is one of many countries dealing with a rapidly ageing population in the region. Japan's neighbour reported on Tuesday that the number of births in 2023 dropped to a new record low for the eighth consecutive year.

In 2022, China's fertility rate was 1.09, a record low, and Japan's fertility rate fell to a record low of 1.26.

0 Comments found

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *