In a desperate effort to improve the nation’s waning birthrate, South Korea has been offering monetary incentives for families to have three or more children.
So far, between 2006 to 2016, the South Korean government has spent over 101.6 trillion won ($90,000,000) to encourage people to procreate. The campaign, however, has yet to yield the necessary results to keep South Korea’s population of 51 million stable.
For this year, the government announced it is allotting over 22.4 trillion won ($19,835,000) to make a significant impact in the nation’s birth rate which has remained to be one of the lowest in the world, Yonhap News reports.
Currently, the country has a replacement fertility rate of just 1.25 children per woman, a far cry to the ideal 2.1 children per woman fertility rate needed to keep the population at a constant level.
The aging population in the country has become a growing concern as South Koreans over the age of 65 have accounted for 13.2% of its population last year. It has been estimated that the number could reach more than 12.9 million, or 24.5% of the population, by 2030.
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South Korea’s birth promotion policy has been at odds with the current trend among many young Koreans who choose to delay marriage as they struggle to find decent jobs due to the recent economic slowdown.
According to government data, young people aged between 15 and 29 have registered an alarming 8.4% unemployment rate in December. The figure is significantly higher than the country’s overall jobless rate of 3.2%.
Previous government programs which promoted smaller families back in the 1970s and 80s are also partly to blame in the country’s current dilemma, which is why the government is quite aggressive in reversing the situation.
“It’s fair to say financial incentives are part of South Korea’s efforts to raise the low birthrate,” Population Association of Korea member and Kookmin University sociology professor Kye Bong-oh was quoted as saying.
One of the recipients of such incentives is Kang Mi-ok of Cheongyang County, South Chungcheong Province, who received 2 million won ($1,700) back in August last year as an award for the birth of her fourth baby.
To help her raise the newborn, she is also set to receive 8 million won ($7,100) more in installments, by 2020 from the local government.
“It’s completely a bonanza,” Kang said, noting that the incentives are a great help to her family in raising four children.
In addition to the cash gifts and incentives, the South Korean government has also adopted some creative ways to encourage citizens to make babies.
Back in 2010, South Korea launched an initiative dubbed “Family Day” that had companies turning off all office lights by 7:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month. According to BBC. the program was basically intended to “help staff get dedicated to childbirth and upbringing.”