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Korea's Low Birth Rate Continues to Decline Updated: 2010-07-14 00:00:00 KST

The Korean government has nearly tripled its childcare budget over the past five years to 2-trillion won, or about 1.7 billion US dollars, in efforts to boost the nation's shrinking birth rate.
The outcome, however, so far has been below expectations.


[Interview : ] "Korea has seen a low birth rate since 2000. Although the figures went up slightly during 2005 and 2006, it has continued to slide ever since."

According to Korea Statistics, the nation recorded its lowest birth rate since national data was made available falling from 1.6-3 babies on average in 1995 to 1.2-5 in 2007 before plunging to its lowest figure of 1.1-5 last year.
Many intertwined factors are accelerating the decline, but the government's inefficient use of its budget that only covers a narrow range of people is quickly becoming a new culprit.


[Interview : ] "I think our country seriously lacks enough daycare centers for working moms. I registered at a daycare center in Seoul prior to my delivery, but I was waitlisted until five months after my baby was born."

Furthermore, according to the government's internal assessment report on childcare policy, the new measure leaned too heavily towards childcare support and failed to address other major issues such as the disadvantages women face at work after taking maternity leave.
Fear of discontinuities in their careers is currently the second biggest reason why Korean women refuse to have more than one child.


[Reporter : ] "Another reason behind the dwindling birth rate is that the government's financial support is concentrated too much on low-income families, leaving out the middle class which takes up more than 65 percent of Korea's population."


[Interview : ] "I hardly get any support from the government because the money for childcare aid is set well below Korea's average salary."

Following the poor results and a storm of complaints on the new policies the government has decided to revise the current measures by expanding financial aid to families with an average income and allocating funds depending not only on level of income, but also on the number of children per household.
On top of the public policies, however, should lie a nationwide realization that the low birth rate and aging population could inevitably cast a grim shadow over our future generations.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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