In contrast with China o India, which are two of the countries with the highest population rate in the world, there is another nation in Asia that has the lowest numbers in the birth rate: South Korea. According to data from the National Statistics Office, in 2021, the Asian giant recorded 260,600 births, 11,800 fewer than in 2020.
Likewise, since 2018, the country’s birth rate is less than one child per woman, a trend that in the last 12 months registered that women had 0.81 children on average. This figure, compared to that of the world’s great economies, whose birth rate is 1.6, complicates the picture for the exporting nation of cute dramas and K-pop hits.
“I have no plans to have a child. I don’t want to go through the physical pain of giving birth or see my career suffer. We are on strike to procreate, ”explained citizen Jang Yun-hwa in an interview she gave in 2018 to BBC correspondent Jean Mackenzie.
The reasons Jang presented are, perhaps, shared by much of the female population in South Korea. In recent years, the South Koreans have achieved great promotions in their professional careers; however, the inequality that still exists between men and women in the workplace has encouraged women to say their jobs over family life.
“The country has the largest wage gap between men and women of any rich country,” says Mackenzie. The fact that, in most cases of pregnancy, it is the woman who has to abandon her career to dedicate herself to housework and childcare has given strength to the rejection of motherhood.
Added to this factor is the high cost of living in the Asian giant, and the rise in housing costs.
Few births: a global problem
The birth rates in the world have presented a high decrease in the most advanced economies during the last decades, according to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). However, in the case of the European powers, this trend has been manageable thanks to the high rates of immigration.
In South Korea, the scenario is different. The size of South Korean families has decreased markedly compared to the 1970s, when women had an average of four children. Therefore, at present, the Asian giant not only has problems with birth figures, but also with the aging of its population and the increase in the mortality rate.
So far in 2022, 28,859 deaths have been reported in the Asian nation compared to 20,007 births. Going forward, this will require increased public spending in response to demand on health and pension systems and labor shortages.
Experts maintain that South Korea could present a “demographic earthquake” as of the year 2030. Similarly, studies by the South Korean government show that if the situation is not reversed, the number of the working-age population will fall by 35%. for the next 30 years. A task that must be addressed promptly to continue keeping the economy of the Asian giant afloat.