Low fertility rate? Not anymore!

The Presidential Council for Future and Vision in South Korea has set out a plan to boost the country’s total fertility rate that has been decreasing at a faster rate for the last few decades. In 2006, the government had indeed attempted to increase the total fertility rate by helping low income parents have more babies, yet this plan did not turn out to be very effective. The government realized that they should focus instead on the middle income group, which has been “shown to have the lowest fertility rate among the different income groups.”

There have been several suggestions about how to boost the total fertility rate in South Korea. First, the Council argues that South Korea should “allow dual citizenship and revise the immigration law to make it easier to attract foreign talent.” Many developed countries have already used this method for the same reason, and it seems that now is the perfect time for South Korea to take the same step. Second, they suggest “lowering the age at which children enter elementary school” in order to save some childcare costs and allow children to begin working at an earlier age. However, this proposal has been argued against because it is possible that some of those children would have a difficult time adjusting to school in terms of academic and social life. Some people argue that it would be better if the government focuses instead on kindergarten education, either by requiring children to receive kindergarten education or by providing public kindergarten education system. Third, they suggest that they should decrease the rate of illegal abortion. Although the government has made abortion legal, it turned out that “95% of abortions performed are still illegal”; therefore, it is imperative that the government enforces the abortion law more strictly or comes up with other measures to ensure that illegal abortion no longer occurs. Lastly, the government calls for “family-friendly policies” in the workplace as more and more women enter the workforce. Working women have less and less time to take care of their children; as a result, most of them decide not to have children at all. This trend could lead to a significantly lower fertility rate; therefore, the government should enforce employers to devise better family-friendly policies in order to boost the total fertility rate.

If the government leaves the issue of low fertility rates untouched, the rate could increase to an extent that “the country's population [would] shrink by more than 4 million by 2050.” Hence, it is imperative that the government consider implementing some of the proposals above in order to ensure that a low fertility rate would not affect the future of the country.

-Submitted by S. Cho (CAS’12)


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