Women in South Korean are now getting incentives from the government to have babies as the country struggles to overcome its low birth rate.
Kang Mi-ok received 2 million won (US$1,700) from a rural county in central South Korea in August. The money was meant to promote the birth of a fourth baby.
She is set to receive another 8 million won in installments by 2020 from Cheongyang County, South Chungcheong Province, to help her raise the baby.
“It’s completely a bonanza,” Kang said as she was caring for four children with her husband at a cafe in Cheongyang, 160 kilometers south of Seoul. The young housewife said the financial incentives are a great help to her family in raising four children.
Kang’s case illustrates South Korea’s desperate efforts to raise its birthrate — one of the lowest in the world — at a time when many young people delay marriage as they cannot find decent jobs amid a prolonged economic slowdown.
South Korea’s total fertility rate — the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime — stood at 1.24 in 2015, much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep South Korea’s population of 51 million stable.
Earlier this week, acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn called on officials to address the issues that make people reluctant to get married and give birth, noting South Korea has failed to get out of the “quagmire of low birthrate” for more than 15 years.
Ranking officials of central and provincial governments met in Busan on Oct. 28, 2016, to discuss measures to boost the nation’s birthrate.
The low birthrate has prompted South Korea’s central and provincial governments to come up with financial incentives and other measures to try to encourage young people to have more babies.
Lee Suk-hwa, the head of Cheongyang County, said his county began last year to give 10 million won to parents who have a fourth baby as part of efforts to encourage more young people to have more babies in rural areas. He also said his county has set up a 20 billion won fund to offer scholarships for college students from Cheongyang.