[LETTERS] A need for creative ideas to encourage childbirthRegarding a June 16th editorial, “Losing our productive people,” I am worried about our current situation. I gained new insight from this article and realized people’s changing attitudes and social concepts. Among many factors involved, I’d like to consider three views that have affected women and resulted in low birthrates.
I think changing attitudes toward marriage has a strong influence on this phenomenon. Another report I read the other day said the population of singles in their 30s in Seoul has doubled within the last decade. Nowadays, single ladies in their 30s appear frequently in lots of media, and marriage is regarded as imprisonment to them. They are satisfied with leisure time they can spend without being bothered by anyone. They want to take advantage of their single life as much as possible. They are eager to develop their career as well. It results from changing mindsets, emphasizing personal happiness more than any other value. For those who are seeking their own happiness, traditional marriage life is not a must anymore.
To many married women, having a child means sacrificing much of their social lives. Even though the cultural norms are changing rapidly, child care is still regarded as women’s job in our society. That concept still makes them hesitant to have a baby. For example, many working women are afraid of losing their jobs because it’s still tough to get maternity leave from the workplace. After childbirth, they fear the difficulties in managing house chores, child care and their career obligations at the same time. It could be a huge burden for them.
The view on having children has also evolved due to socioeconomic changes. In traditional agricultural societies, having children is very important in terms of producing a future workforce. They expected their descendants to support them when they got old. But in this modern society, the concept that having children as optional has flourished. People no longer simply expect their offspring to provide for them in their later years, but rather they have started to think that they are responsible for their own retirement years.
In this regard, I believe government policies are focusing too much on subsidies or child care incentives and I totally agree with the idea that we should consider the changing mindsets of this generation to make more comprehensive strategies, as well as supplement current incentive policies. We need to come up with creative ideas to encourage childbirth.
Park Eun-suk, a resident in Seoul
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