Low employment rates, smaller incomes and difficulties finding places to live: it's a recipe that has resulted in Korea having one of the lowest fertility rates in the OECD.
Data recently released by The World Factbook, produced by the Central Intelligence Agency, estimates Korea's total fertility rate at one.two-five, which represents the number of children a mother is expected to have over her lifetime.
Topping the list were the African countries of Niger, Mali and Burundi.
Israel, Mexico and France had the highest rates among the OECD.
Experts say the low birth rate in Korea comes from a combination of factors.
"The low fertility rate can be seen among married couples and those who are not married. Among the unmarried, high youth unemployment rates and low incomes are the major reasons for putting off marriage. Among married couples, the financial hardships associated with raising kids act as a deterrent from getting pregnant."
Last year, 67 percent of the 14.1 billion U.S. dollars spent by the Korean government on raising the nation's fertility rate was funneled into support for child care.
Yang says there's more that can be done.
"In 2009, France poured in about four percent of its yearly budget to tackling the low birth rate, while Korea spent only about one percent."
Experts say the low birth rate will ultimately lead to a decrease in the working population, resulting in a slowdown in production and a reduction in consumption, which could bring down Korea's economic growth rate down to about one.seven percent in the next 20 years.
Connie Kim, Arirang News.