Thursday, August 25, 2022

South Korea's "baby-making strike".

 Fertility rates have "declined markedly" in the past six decades says the OECD - Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. But the trend has been particularly pronounced in South Korea, where family sizes have reduced in the span of a few generations. 

At the start of the 1970s women had four children on average but South Korea has again recorded the world's lowest fertility rate with the number sinking to a new low.

The rate in the country first dropped lower than one child per woman in 2018. In 2020 there was widespread alarm in South Korea when it recorded more deaths than births for the first time.

But on Wednesday, figures released by the government showed the figure had dropped to 0.81 - down three points from the previous year, and a sixth consecutive decline.

A declining population can put a country under immense strain. Apart from increased pressure on public spending as demand for healthcare systems to cape with the frail elderly and a rise in pension payments, a declining youth population also leads to labour shortages that impact the economy. Raising children in South Korea is expensive, and many young people are sinking under astronomical housing costs. A crisis is brewing. If South Korea's population continues to shrink, there won't be enough people to grow its economy and look after its ageing population. Politicians have been unable to fix it. They have thrown billions of dollars at trying to convince people to have children and are still this hasn't worked.

In comparison, the average rate across the world's most advanced economies is 1.6 children.

Countries need at least two children per couple - a 2.1 rate - to keep their population at the same size, without migration.

Essentially, many women here are still forced to choose between having a career and having a family. Increasingly they are deciding they don't want to sacrifice their careers.

As one woman put it, "we are on a baby-making strike".

South Korea records world's lowest fertility rate again - BBC News

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