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Young S. Korean women putting themselves first

todayFebruary 29, 2024 11

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Young women in South Korea are putting themselves first and say they can rather delay having children or not have them at all because they want to further their careers.

The country’s fertility rate, which is already the world’s lowest, continued its dramatic decline in December 2023.

Cultural factors such as the difficulty working mothers have juggling their jobs, with the expectation that they are mainly responsible for household chores and childcare, has also been cited as a major reason for the declining birth rate.

Other factors include concerns over the high financial costs that come with raising children, property prices, a lack of well-paying jobs and the country’s education system, which some say can be an obstacle to having bigger families.

According to data from Statistics Korea, the average number of expected babies for a South Korean woman during her reproductive life fell to a record low of 8% compared with the previous year, which translates to 0.72 from 0.78 in 2022.

Experts are warning that if this trend continues, South Korea’s 51 million population may halve by 2100 based on current rates.

The low birthrate has caused so much concern in the country that some private companies have stepped up, offering employees up to over a million rand ($75 000) to have children and help lift the country’s birth rate.

Ssangbangwool, an underwear company, has offered to give workers over R400 000 ($22 400) for their first child, the same amount for a second child, and R 573 841 ($30 000) for their third.

The company is joining a construction firm that’s based in Seoul, Booyoung Group, which, earlier this month, declared that it would give over a million rand per-child bonus to employees who have babies.

The South Korean government has also put in a lot of money, estimated at more than R5.2 billion in programmes, to encourage couples to have more children.

The incentives include, cash subsidies, babysitting services and support for infertility treatment.

South Korea’s latest stats come after Japan also announced that it is struggling with a rapidly ageing population and a lack of children.

Reports show that in 2023, the birth rate in Japan fell for an eighth straight year to a new low. Written by Noni Harris

Written by: Lindiwe Mabena

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