What’s Causing South Korea’s Childbirth Decline?
Is there a future problem with the number of children being born in South Korea?
Childbirth rates are on the mind of South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. And it’s no wonder women aren’t looking to marry as much these days. After investing so much in their own education and development settling down is not a top priority.
A local news service found on a recent survey that only 68 percent of women in college intended to marry, but that number increases to 80 percent for males. There’s apparently a big gender pay gap difference also.
South Korea has one of the world’s lowest birth rates. So what is the culprit behind this decline? President Moon believes he’s got the answer. He’s shortening the work week in South Korea.
Comparing the South Korean work hours to the United States, you will see a big difference. South Koreans work 2,069 hours per year while Americans work 1,783 per year.
So to restore some quality of life, and to also increase the birthrate I bet, the parliament passed a bill this week to lower the maximum workweek from 68 hours to 52 hours. That’s insane. No wonder they all have so much money for plastic surgery. I think the South Korean culture is interesting and personally have no problems with people going under the knife if that makes them happier and more productive.
But back to the birth rate issue tied to the long working hours.
“Under the current law, the maximum working hours in Korea were 68 hours per week, as the law excluded Saturdays and Sundays as part of the 40 hours ‘working days,’ making it possible to work an additional 16 hours during the weekend on top of any extended working hours,” as Korean broadcaster Arirang explains. “The revised working hours will now include the weekends in the weekly 40 hour working day period, reducing the maximum hours to 52.”
“For years we have overlooked the real culprit of the problem — our country’s vast gender disparity and inhumanely long working hours,” family minister Chung Hyun Back told the AFP.
“Unless we tackle these problems head-on, South Korea’s future will remain murky with the young generation staying away from marriage — not to mention childbirth,” Chung continued.
“Shorter working hours are necessary for the sake of happiness, but it needs to be discussed along with ways to improve labor productivity,” Kim Tai-gi, a professor of economics at Dankook University in Jukjeon, South Korea, told Bloomberg. “Without better productivity, it would have side effects like a decline in income for workers and an increased cost burden for employers.”
“Overworking must not persist in our society,” President Moon recently stated. “It is impossible to lead a happy life when long hours and overexertion become routine. The Government will focus on reducing working hours and ensuring that people can leave work on time.”
“The Government,” the president said, “will strive to build a society where women can still lead their life pursuing their own values when they get married, give birth and raise children.”
The government is also increasing daycare centers by 450 across the nation and will give weekly allowances for children under 5 for those facilities.