Oh Se-hoon, Seoul’s mayor, shared plans to alleviate South Korea’s fertility crisis with foreign and low-cost nannies in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
In the post, translated by NextShark, he states:
“<Request for the introduction of Foreign Nannies>
In my attendance at today’s Cabinet Council, I suggested a polity to introduce foreign child-caring nannies.
The topic of the meeting was ‘population change and countermeasures.’ South Korea’s fertility rate is 0.81 (as of 2021) and Seoul’s fertility rate is 0.63, pushing us past a decrease in population to face a growing concern of demographic extinction.
Now, parenting should bring societal respect and, as a society, we need to create a system that helps children grow along with their parents. ‘Mom and Dad Happiness Project’ will be the first step towards this.
I am focusing on policies for foreign child nannies. It will be welcomed news for parents who have avoided nannies because of financial issues or shortage of helpers.
After Hong Kong and Singapore applied these same policies in 1970, they saw a clear upward rise of female economic and labor participation. Although they were unable to see a long-term change in low fertility rates, in comparison to South Korea, they slowed down the decreasing rates.
There is a need to minimize giving-up work and experience at the expense of having a child.
For South Korea to employ foreign nannies, it will cost 2,000,000 KRW~3,000,000 KRW ($1,400.88 – $2,101.31) per month. In comparison, Singapore spends 380,000 KRW~760,000 KRW ($266.58 – $533.15) per month on foreign helpers.
Further plans will be given by the upcoming TF pan-government, who will proceed with careful discussion.”
Mayor Oh’s plans come in light of South Korea’ declining fertility rate, which is the lowest in the world. As of 2021, Statistics Korea reported a fertility rate of 0.81. However, a rate of 2.1 is required to maintain a population without migration. With an expectation for further drops, the country’s decreasing population has become a major concern for South Korea’s government.
Mayor Oh’s foreign nanny policy is expected to further open South Korea’s borders and ease immigration and visa processes. According to the Korea Immigration Service, only foreigners with long-term visas (F-2, F-4, F-5, F-6 visas) are allowed to work as babysitters or nannies. Those with short-term visas or temporary work visas are unable to participate in domestic work without specific approval.
Earlier in August, South Korea also tripled monthly baby allowances to 1 million KRW (approximately $703) as an incentive for more births. The “Mom and Dad Happiness Project” and the foreign nanny policy are expected to be the next steps toward increasing South Korea’s fertility rate.
However, time for childcare and financial burdens are not the only reasons South Koreans have hesitated when it comes to children. Housing, education, job opportunities, anxiety and individual happiness are also factors affecting their decisions.