more babies, please!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not for me...for South Korea.

One of my "followers" (using that term makes me feel like a cult leader) commented on how strange it is that the Korean government is monetarily rewarding people for having children. That's because South Korea has one of the lowest (2nd only to Hong Kong) birth rates in the world: 1.08% in 2006. There are several factors that contributed to this decrease.

Forty years ago, the average Korean woman married young and had an average of six children. The shift to urban life, with higher education for women and less need for a "family work force" has dropped that number to 1.17 children per woman.

As each generation tries to create a better life for their children, parents are overwhelmed by the rising cost of pre-school, hagwon (private after-school programs like the one where Matthew works), and university, not to mention all the stuff that modern kids supposedly need. And, let's face it, Koreans are competitively materialistic. The game of keeping up with the Kims puts the Joneses to shame. Most people can't afford to have more than one or two children.

Oh, and then there's the former government programs. That's right, starting in the 1960s, the government discouraged citizens from having too many children. One slogan was, "Give Birth Without Thought and Keep Living Like a Beggar." Subtle, no? The government encouraged and subsidized vasectomies and tubal ligations until as late as 2005. Now they're paying to reverse those same vasectomies. Oops!

I wrote earlier about the debit card I received to defray my prenatal care. Some provinces give money directly to people who have more children, especially in smaller cities and towns where the population is rapidly aging. Our province, Gangwon-do, pays for "kindergarten" (pre-school that children can start as early as two years) for third or subsequent children.

Only time will tell if these measures help. If not, the South Korean population will decrease 13% by 2050.

Further reading:


No response to “more babies, please!”
Post a Comment | Post Comments (Atom)

Post a Comment

Domestic Bliss in South Korea. Citrus Pink Blogger Theme Design By LawnyDesignz Powered by Blogger