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South Korea risks a significant population crash because the country marks its second consecutive year with the worlds lowest fertility rate

South Koreans are experiencing so few children that their country had the worlds lowest fertility rate in 2021, even less than the preceding year where the nation also came in dead last.

On the same period, the amount of newborns in the united kingdom plunged to a fresh, all-time low of 260,000, down 4.3% from the entire year prior, in accordance with South Korea census bureau data released this week. Its the next consecutive year that the countrys childbirths dipped below 300,000.

South Korean is among many developed nations which are experiencing a decline in childbirths and fertility rates. For instance, Hong Kong had a fertility rate of 0.9 in 2020 while Singapores was at 1.1.

In the U.S., the amount of newborns actually rose 1% in 2021 to 3.6 million.

Stressors

This past year, South Korean Netflix series Squid Game took the planet by storm. In the show, 456 indebted contestants compete in deadly games for to be able to win $40 million and erase their debts.

Its themes resonated worldwide, but particularly for young South Koreans, whose chances at upgrading the countrys socioeconomic ladder have plummeted recently. Job competition has intensified, home prices have skyrocketed, and teenagers have considered get rich quickly schemes like bingeing on debt to purchase cryptocurrencies and stocks, alongside online gambling.

Young Korean professionals also face significant societal pressures to conform, and work pressures like extended hours and heavy drinking sessions with bosses and coworkers. These professional pressures are exacerbated for working womenover 1 / 2 of South Koreas female population come in the workforcewho are anticipated to do all the above, but additionally abide by rigid beauty standards and look after the house and family.

These factors have translated right into a lack of need to become parents among teenagers. Over 1 / 2 of young Koreans say having children is unnecessary after marriage. It has additionally exacerbated the countrys mental health crisis; over 95% of the populace say theyre stressed and the united states gets the highest suicide rate among all OECD nations.

Through the 1970s, South Koreas annual amount of childbirths hovered at around 1 million. Since that time, it has consistently declined. In 2017, that figure fell below 400,000 for the very first time.

This past year, the nations amount of births per 1,000 people, also plunged to a fresh, all-time low of 5.1, in comparison to 5.3 in 2020. The common age of a female giving birth in addition has risen to 33.4 in 2021, in comparison to 33.1 in per year earlier.

How difficult must people think it is to obtain married, give birth, and raise children because of this number to be so low? If we take this as a compressed way of measuring basic life, its a troublesome figure, Lee Samsik, a professor of policy at Seouls Hanyang University, told the NY Times.

Road ahead

In 2020, South Korea experienced its first natural population decline as its amount of deaths surpassed the amount of newborns.By the finish of the century, South Koreas population of 51 million could halve, in accordance with US estimates.

Within the last few years, the country has scrambled to get solutions to cope with its shrinking population and work force. The federal government has advocated for bringing more womenand robotsinto its workforce. It has additionally introduced subsidies to encourage families to possess more children, including a cash bonus of $1,185 for each child born, and a monthly grant of $224 for the initial year of a childs life (this can increase to $373 by 2025). New parents who’ve been within their job for half a year have entitlement to twelve months of paid parental leave. However in practice, workers taking paternity leave continues to be rare because of professional stigma while mothers taking maternity leave tend to be penalized by their employers for doing this.

South Koreas low fertility rate and female labor participation rates ultimately reflect entrenched social norms that’ll be difficult to show around. A sharp decline in the workforce on the next handful of decades is inevitable, Gareth Leather, senior Asia economist at research firm Capital Economics, wrote in an email last August.

The subsidies can help at the margin, but we doubt it could make a massive difference. Financial support for parents will have a restricted effect on fertility, Leather said.

South Korea has implemented reforms to open its doors to migrant laborers. Yet only 3% of its population is foreign-born, given the challenges to become a South Korean citizen. Public popular opinion can be stacked against mass immigration in to the country.

In the lack of a significant government intervention, the united states will probably experience a crippling labor shortage by the center of another decade; and within 3 to 4 generations, the national population could drop dramatically, Lee Sang-lim, a demographer with the Korea Institute for Health insurance and Social Affairs, told the NY Times.

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