Keep those babies comingKorea’s fertility rate increased for the first time in three years. In 2005, the fertility rate was 1.08 and in 2006, the figure jumped to 1.13. The total number of babies increased for first time in six years as well. Last year, 452,000 babies were born, 14,000 more than the previous year. Although a slight rise, it is good news.
The fertility rate in Korea has been decreasing since the 1980s and the nation recorded one of the world’s lowest rates. The low fertility rate was a serious problem in our society.
It is unclear what contributed to this sudden increase in the fertility rate. First, it seems to be the result of an increase in marriages and a decline in divorce. Married women who postponed having babies gave birth. Particularly, many women in their early 30s gave birth. For the first time, the fertility rate for this age group was higher than the figure of women in their late 20s.
The fertility rate seems like it may increase for at least one or two more years to come. Last year was regarded as lucky because, according to the lunar calendar, it had two springs. Many couples married last year and are expected to have babies. This year is also believed to be lucky because people born in the year of the pig are thought to grow up rich. So, many couples are likely to have babies this year.
However, we cannot be too optimistic. The fertility rate is still one of the lowest in the world. The average birthrate globally is 2.69. The minimum rate to sustain the current population is 2.1. Korea’s birthrate is below both of those figures.
It is hard to say if this rise in the fertility rate was the result of government measures against a low fertility rate. A sense of crisis about the low fertility rate spread into society, and there has been an atmosphere that encourages couples to have babies.
More babies were born because women in their 30s could not postpone marriage and having babies any longer ― not because conditions for childbearing, such as daycare centers or work conditions, improved. You can see that if you ask any woman who has a job.
The economy must be revived so that youth can have families.
The public education system must be enhanced so that parents do not need to worry about the heavy burden of private lessons for their children.
Measures to allow women to have both good jobs and families must be presented. Otherwise, this sudden and slight increase in the fertility rate will not last for long.