Burdens of child rearing one primary reason behind South Korea’s low birthrate

Posted on : 2018-03-05 17:47 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
Financial costs cited by majority of parents who do not have the desired number of children
On Feb. 20
On Feb. 20

Some parents with children in elementary, middle or high school are reluctant to have additional children even though they would like to have more, and the main reason is the burden of raising children, both financial and otherwise, a new report finds.

On Mar. 4, the Korea Institute of Child Care & Education (KICCE) published a report titled “A Thorough Analysis of Government Policies Aimed at Countering the Low Birthrate per Life Cycle Stage.” An online questionnaire of 1,200 expecting parents and parents with at least one child of high school age or below found that the average number of children desired by these parents is 2.04. Among the 900 households with children of high school age or below, 65.3% (588 people) responded that they did not intend to have any additional children. But when members of this group were asked whether they currently have their desired number of children, 78.2% said that they did, while 21.8% said they did not.

Further questioning of this group of 21.8%, showed that the main reason they are not planning to have more children even though they do not currently have their desired number is the cost of raising children. More than half of this group (53.1%) cited the burden of childcare costs, while other reasons mentioned were the difficulty of maintaining a job and raising children at the same time (21.1%), poor health (7.8%) and the difficulty of looking after children by oneself (4.7%).

The percentage of respondents who said they would not have any more children despite their interest in doing so tended to be higher among households with a low income or with a single financial provider. This tendency was even more pronounced when the respondent was male and when there were already a large number of children in the family.

When the 68 people who were hesitant to have more children because of the cost of raising them were asked if government subsidies would change their mind, 47.1% said that they would. This response was more common when the household’s monthly income was lower. In contrast, 52.9% said that government assistance would not affect their view.

“The results of this study show that child-rearing assistance needs to be focused on households with a low monthly income if we are to expect an improvement in the birth rate,” the researchers wrote in the report.

By Kim Yang-joong, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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