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South Korea’s Birth Rate Drops For The Second Month In September; Government Fears Issue Could Affect Country’s Annual Growth

by Czarelli Tuason / Nov 30, 2015 03:02 AM EST
Newborn (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

For the second straight month, South Korea's birth rate declines in September, with 36,500 infants reportedly born in the country, a decrease by 3.7 percent from the same month in the previous year.

According to Yonhap News Agency on Wednesday, the plunging birth rate in South Korea can become an economic concern for a nation with an aging population, hence the government's efforts to increase the country's birth rate. The nation is trying to prevent decreasing their workforce further, which could greatly increase welfare expenses.

Among the nations under the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Korea is one of those who have the lowest birth rates. In 2014, the country had a total of 435,400 births, while the first nine months of 2015 recorded 336,400 births.

The number of couples getting married in the country also reportedly decreased. In September, only 19,000 couples were wedded, a decrease by 1.6 percent from the previous year. The number also dropped in 2014 by 5.4 percent, with a 1.3 percent decrease in 2013.

Bloomberg noted on Nov. 9 that South Korea's government has come up with a number of projects to help raise the nation's birth rate, including a matchmaking event for singles, public housing priority for young couples, campaigns that promote marriage and support for individuals who are in need of fertility treatment to name a few.

"The low birth rate could become a national catastrophe unless the government really acknowledges the significance of the issue," said professor of business administration at Ewha University in Seoul, Kang Hye Ryun.

The government will be gathering the feedback this month on the projects they have arranged prior to unveiling the five-year plan to increase birth rate and address aging problems in the country next month.

"Raising the birth rate is especially hard in Korea because of a corporate culture that's unfavorable to a work-life balance," said Lee Jong Wha, a Seoul-based professor of economics at Korea University and former chief economist at the Asian Development Bank. "China has just abandoned its one-child rule and it has room for more policy changes in the future."

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