South Korea is reportedly offering more cash and incentives to entice people to have more children as previous efforts to curb declining fertility rate remain unsuccessful.
Now among the world’s lowest, the country’s fertility rate (measured as the average number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime) could cause a significant decrease in its population within the next 10 years.
Observers attributed the crisis to several factors including high costs of child-rearing, limited daycare and long hours at work.
A study commissioned by South Korea’s National Assembly in 2014 reported that South Koreans could “face natural extinction” by 2750 if the country’s fertility rate were to remain at 1.19 per woman.
According to Agence France-Presse, South Korea’s fertility rate has fallen to a record low 0.95 this year, a figure which is way lower than the ideal 2.1 which, according to demographers, is needed for its population to be stable.
Over the past 13 years, the South Korean government has spent about $121 billion on efforts to increase the rate.
The government has already been providing cash subsidies to eligible parents, but such a strategy to increase children raised per household has yet to make a difference.
It reportedly began its subsidy system of about $88 a month for parents of children under 5 back in September.
South Korea recently announced that it would increase the monthly payments to $270 and expand the subsidy to include the wealthiest 10% of people in the country.
As an added incentive, parents with children below the age of 8 will be allowed to work one less hour so they can take care of their family longer starting late 2019. Paid paternity leave will also cover 10 days instead of three.
It was not reported, however, whether this subsidy expansion and added benefits would mean restrictions for previous subsidies.