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Vulnerability of young adults in South Korea's demographic winter

Can South Korea reverse its plummeting birthrate? This article explores the reasons behind the "coldest demographic winter" and what it means for the nation's future
Vulnerability of young adults in South Korea's demographic winter

A staged photograph of a Korean couple with their child. (Photo supplied)

Published: June 07, 2024 07:10 AM GMT
Updated: June 10, 2024 05:18 AM GMT

On the feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth in 2021, Pope Francis revealed his serious concern about the low fertility rate in countries like Italy, using the expression “demographic winter.” 

He urged us to raise awareness and tackle the demographic decline that poses a threat to our families, our nation, and our future. In that year, the total fertility rate of Italy remained at 1.25. A birth rate lower than the population replacement rate of 2.1 has been a trend in most developed countries in Europe, North America, and Eastern Asia. 

South Korea in particular is the country that experienced the coldest demographic winter in 2023. According to statistical data announced in February 2024, the provisional birth rate for 2022 was 0.78, for 2023, 0.72, and it is expected to be 0.68 in 2024.

In the face of this serious situation, all those who care for life and humanity should be engaged in an in-depth reflection that leads to prompt and practical actions to counter the tendency toward lower fertility rates in most developed countries.

The overall fertility rate in South Korea has remained below 1.3 for over two decades. Many Koreans are concerned about this trend, and numerous experts have offered various ideas and opinions on the issue. The Korean government has invested significant human and financial resources to boost the birth rate.

For instance, various financial incentives, such as cash rewards, childcare allowances, and payment for infertility treatment, have been implemented. Vouchers cover ultrasounds and fetal malformation tests. 

Despite numerous forms of direct and indirect support for childbirth and child-rearing, the declining fertility trend in the country has not only persisted but has intensified, approaching a record low unprecedented in the modern era worldwide.

The surprisingly low fertility rate in South Korea has not only captured the attention of people within Korea but also drawn interest from many countries around the world.

For instance, in December of last year, Ross Douthat, a New York Times Opinion columnist, wrote an article entitled “South Korea Could be Disappearing,” suggesting that the principal causes of the birth decline there can be found in other developed countries, including the USA. In general, factors related to low fertility include

Read the complete article here.

This article is brought to you by UCA News in association with "La Civiltà Cattolica." 

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