South Korea has beat its record again with the world’s lowest fertility rate-the number of children born to a woman. To maintain stable numbers, countries need steady growth rates-preferably a 2.1 rate or two children per couple. The rate usually averages around 1.6 children per couple in advanced countries. However, in 2018, South Korea set a record of a 0.84 fertility rate. Despite the country’s attempt to reverse the steadily declining fertility rates, the figure dropped to 0.81. Not only are the rates dropping, but women also have children at an older age-averaging at around 33.4 years old-which leads to a higher elderly population than the youth population.
There are many reasons why fertility rates are lowering. The biggest reason for this is the economic pressure women face and prioritizing their careers.
Living costs continue to increase in South Korea, which puts an additional burden on the expense of raising a child. As the job markets are increasing in competition, women don’t have time or energy to take care of children. Women in South Korean job markets especially face gender inequality or discrimination, as pregnant women or mothers put their children before work. The country has one of the highest pay gaps between genders and often, women stop working after having children. Essentially, they are put in a position to choose between their career or raising a child.
Low fertility rates can have devastating effects on the country, especially economically. As the population declines, labor shortages occur as fewer people work to support the older population and pay taxes. The South Korean government is continuously attempting to address this problem by implementing diverse campaign methods and spreading awareness.
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