Homes for couples in plan to raise the birth rate

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Homes for couples in plan to raise the birth rate

The government is considering a proposal to raise the country’s average birth rate by helping more young people find homes and jobs.

The Presidential Committee on Aging Society and Population Policy unveiled a draft proposal for a plan to address the problem on Sunday.

Under the tentative proposal, part of a general three-phase plan to raise the low birth rate, the committee suggests measures to raise the average birth rate to 1.5 per woman by 2020 from around the 1.2 mark recorded in recent years.

Korea had an average fertility rate of 1.21 per woman last year, one of the lowest rates in the world.

In the proposed plan, which may be implemented from 2016 to 2020, the committee focused its attention on assisting young men and women in finding homes through various financial aid packages and providing incentives for companies to hire a young workforce.

The government has recognized that one of the reasons men in their 20s and 30s postpone getting married and having children is high housing price in general, especially in Seoul and its surrounding area.

Under the tentative proposal, the government would raise the ceiling for the lump-sum housing payment loan to 120 million won ($106,080) from the current 100 million won in Seoul and the surrounding area.

Those living outside of the capital area could receive up to 90 million won, a 10 million won increase from the current loan amount.

The proposal also calls for extra points to be given to newly married couples and those who are about to tie the knot in winning contracts for public rental housing.

The draft plan is designed to favor younger couples when all other requirement conditions are the same.

To emphasize the importance of providing quality jobs for young people so that they can marry and have children, the proposal aims to create more than 40,000 new jobs in the public sector for those fresh out of college by 2017.

It also calls on the government to waive a tax of up to 5 million won for each young individual hired by private companies.

The government plans to convene a meeting of experts on the issue on Monday. The Cabinet will review the proposal before it is finalized.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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