South KoreaKim Seung-pyo, 33, and Do Ara, 31, celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary. They have an apartment, a stable job, but have no intention of giving birth.
“I’ve always liked children, but marriage has given me a taste of reality. We barely have enough to live, so we both have doubts about the ability to raise a child in this day and age,” said Kim. , a delivery officer, shared.
In addition, they also faced the question of who takes care of the children, as both are working.
“My family wants my wife to stay home and take care of her family, but she also needs to keep her job,” said Kim.
Due to being a kindergarten teacher. She also majored in consulting with the aim of finding a better job.
Currently, the couple only intend to have one child, or not even give birth. Do and Kim are not the only couples in Korea with this idea.
According to statistics, from 2015 to 2019, the country has nearly one million newly married couples. More than 40% of them have no children. South Korea became the country with the lowest total fertility rate in the world, at 0.92 in 2019, down to 0.84 in the third quarter of this year. The average for the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries is 1.65.
These are alarming numbers, forcing the Commission for Population and Social Aging Policy to propose unprecedented measures to cope. Last week, the agency issued the 3rd Basic Plan, effective from 2021 to 2025.
Accordingly, from 2022 each family that gives birth will be awarded 2 million won ($ 1,826) and a support of 300,000 won per month. The amount will increase to 500,000 won per month by 2025. The subsidy lasts until the child turns one year old. Each couple also receives monthly insurance up to 3 million won during maternity leave.
According to a 2019 survey by the Korean Institute of Health and Social Affairs, economic instability and child rearing are the biggest obstacles for men and women aged 19 to 49 to choose not to have children.
Yang Seung-hae, a 51-year-old teacher, had to work overtime in his high school environment to spend money on private tutoring at the exam preparation center of his two children. In Korea, students study about 5 cram schools, covering basic subjects such as math, literature to piano and swimming.
“All costs are needed to get your child into a good university. On the entrance exams, it’s important that your child scores higher than the rest,” she said.
According to the JoongAng Ilbo calculations, in 2019, the average cost of 6 years of private education is 92.5 million won (83,700 USD).
Mothers are also susceptible to postpartum depression, Yang added, as women often take full responsibility for taking care of their children. Men often avoid helping out with household chores because of social norms.
“When both children go to college, I dare to think about a vacation. If given the suggestion to a newlywed couple, I recommend having only one child,” she said.
Cho Young-tae, a professor of public health at Seoul National University, said the government has failed to investigate the underlying cause of South Koreans’ childbirth. He compared the problem with the rise in real estate prices.
“Both problems arise due to the densities of the population. As the population becomes densely populated, the competition for limited resources is intensifying. Human survival instincts surpass demand. giving birth, “he explained.
With 50 million people, South Korea is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. People living in the city of Seoul and surrounding areas make up half of the country’s population.
“To tackle the low birth rate problem, it is necessary to understand the fierce competition that the younger generation face and come up with policies that reduce the motivation to migrate to Seoul. We should not just focus on institutions. welfare level, “he said.
The Korean Population Association members also criticized the government’s approach to the current problem.
In an open forum hosted by the Ministry of Health in August, Park Keong-suk, a professor of sociology at Seoul National University, emphasized the need to focus on quality of life rather than the need to have children.
“Especially during the pandemic, when we witness youth unemployment and poor social interaction, we need to focus on restoring the living environment that increases the natural birth rate, instead of considering people. is a population growth tool, “she said.
Jun Kwang-hee, a professor at Chungnam National University, has a more pessimistic view.
“I am afraid that if we do not act drastically, the country will not survive in the future. The current incentives for each family only work that much, so the country needs to adopt stronger ways, “he said.
According to him, at the current rate, the Korean population will surely reach a terrible low. The number of deaths is higher than the monthly number of newborns, as of November 2019.
He thinks a good idea might be to donate 100 million won ($ 90,295) per birth.
Kim Seung-pyo, who once planned to have three children, was not too concerned with government support.
“I’m not going to change my mind just to have a few hundred won in the account. If they give us 100 million won for every baby, that’s another story,” he said.
Thuc Linh (According to the SCMP)