Young Koreans' struggles behind low birthrate

Young Koreans' struggles behind low birthrate

South Korea's low birthrate is generating deep concern among policymakers.

The government is scrambling to shore up the falling birthrate, a threat that could jeopardize Asia's fourth-largest economy, which is saddled with a rapidly aging population.

What many policymakers have failed to tackle is the underlying problem that forces Koreans to delay or forgo having children.

Just ask Kim Jin-ah, a 28-year-old Seoulite who still hasn't been "properly" employed, despite her two university degrees.

"I don't think marriage is an option for me right now," said Kim, who currently works as a part-time tutor.

"Having kids is just not even thinkable. I can't even take care of myself right now. I am not sure if I deserve to be happy at this moment."

After finishing her master's degree in biology, Kim, at age 26, realised she didn't want to be a scientist. She started looking for jobs ― a full-time position that would pay her enough to move out of her parents' house and start a family of her own ― but never found one.

During one job interview, for a marketing position at a big firm, Kim was told that she was "too old" for the company's entry-level positions.

Kim, who lives with her parents, is considering going back to school, or even overseas for job opportunities. She is putting off marriage until she gets a full time job.

"If you are not working full time and want to be married, you have to have wealthy parents," she said. "That's just not the case for me."

Kim is one of many young South Koreans who experts think are a key factor behind the country's critically low birthrate ― which Rep. Park Yoon-ok last week described as a "a bigger threat to the country than nuclear weapons."

The country's fertility rate last year, at 1.18 children per woman, is exactly the same as it was in 2003, proving that the demographic policies the government has implemented since 2006 have failed.

More about

Purchase this article for republication.

BRANDINSIDER

SPONSORED

Most Read

Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.