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Birth rate in South Korea hit rock bottom 2019/09/12

South Korea’s fertility rate -the number of births per woman - plummeted to an unprecedented low of 0.98 in 2018, as revealed by the latest government data. The decline made South Korea again the lowest in birth rate among developed countries, while even Japan, a country that has grappled with this issue for years, had a higher rate of 1.42 in 2018. The tumbling fertility rate has led to a host of predicaments including a slowing economy, growing debt and underfunded pensions. Billions have been poured into a number of initiatives, such as free day-care services and cash incentives for mums-to-be, yet the government’s efforts bear little fruit. One principal factor driving the trend is the status of women in this deeply patriarchal nation, where many women are marrying and starting families later in life amid concerns about workplace discrimination. Spiralling housing prices and worsening career prospects for young people are not helping matters either. Quite a reversal from the current scenario, South Korea had wrestled with the demographic challenge of too many babies around 50 years ago, when the rate was as high as six babies per woman in 1960, and the military government was subsidizing sterilization and pushing for smaller families.

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