South Korea’s Plan To Rescue Its Population

( – The South Korean government has announced plans to tackle a demographic crisis as birth rates fall to the world’s lowest level and far below the replacement rate of 2.1. President Yoon Suk Yeol revealed the creation of the Ministry of Low Birth Rate Counter Planning, which will be responsible for tackling the crisis the President labeled a “national emergency.”

South Korea’s fertility, already the world’s lowest, fell again in 2023 to 0.72, down from 0.78. The replacement level is 2.1. Yoon said the issue is extremely serious, and the government must “contemplate the causes and solutions.”

The government has spent more than $200 billion in recent years trying to encourage people to have more children, including financial subsidies and fertility treatment, but these have had no impact. Parts of the private sector are also offering incentives. A major construction firm, Booyoung Group, pays its employees $75,000 each time they or their spouse gives birth.

South Korea is Asia’s fourth-largest economy, and the birth collapse has caused the 19 to 34 age group to contract from a third of the population to just one-fifth. The Statistics Korea group says this will continue to fall.

Statistics Korea further estimates that South Korea’s population will drop from 51.75 million this year to 36.33 million in 2072. Other countries in the region are seeing similar declines as attitudes change dramatically, and economic realities mean young couples struggle to afford housing and other necessities.

Across the border in North Korea, dictator Kim Jong Un has encouraged his population to have more children, saying it will help build “a powerful socialist country.” North Korea’s fertility rate, according to the United Nations, is 1.8 births per woman.

Last year, Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said his country was “standing on the verge of whether we can continue to function.” In the 1970s, Japanese women gave birth to two million babies. By 2023, this figure had fallen to 800,000. Kishida committed his government to doubling spending on initiatives to increase fertility.

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