Friday, May 12, 2006

Falling birth rate for Korea: What to do?

(By Razib Ahmed
South Korea has one of the lowest birth rate in the world and it is all the time decreasing. In 2004 it was 1.16 per woman and then some people thought that from here you cannot go lower. Well, a few days ago, the statistics for 2005 was published and for 2005 it has become 1.08 per woman. In 2004, 476,000 babies were born in Korea whereas in 2005 the figure dropped down to 438,000 These days, women are giving more importance to continue higher education and then have a career. So, getting married or having children are not in the top priority for most Korean people. Many couples simply consider having children as a very expensive and time consuming work. The Korean decision makers are worried about this condition and are contemplating on how to encourage young couples to have more children. The government will give some incentives so that couples feel more encouraged to have children.

Falling birth rates mean that there would be fewer young people to work and pay taxes and more old people to go on retire and require welfare benefits. This is a dangerous trend for any economy. I think that the Korean government should take this issue most seriously now and address it from now. The government should carry a massive promotional campaign in the media and in the universities to motivate young people about the importance of having children. To keep the economy competitive, Korea should start allowing skilled professionals of other countries to immigrate here. Australia and Canada both have seen good benefit from such a scheme.

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