Housing for the young is a must

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Housing for the young is a must

The likelihood that Koreans younger than 30 will be able to afford a home in 10 years is getting smaller and smaller. According to a study by the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements, as of 2014, half the homes available in Seoul are out of the reach for adults between the ages of 25 and 29. Even taking into account mortgage-backed loans, costs have skyrocketed beyond being affordable.

The analysis presumes that home prices will not climb higher from current levels and that the economy grows over 3 percent annually. In other words, under current conditions, not many young people would be able to afford a home on their own.

Home security is a basic life necessity. But more young people are giving up on marriage, children and child care due to the instability in the housing market. The birthrate in Gijang, Busan, stands at 1.78 - higher than national average of 1.21 - because home prices are just 50 to 70 percent of the levels in the port city’s downtown area or nearby Ulsan. Rent also costs half as much and a few child care centers will look after toddlers until late in the night. Needless to say, cheap housing and a good child care environment increases birth rates.

Peripheral cities in Japan have also been trying to draw in more newlyweds and families with small children by offering homes cheap or for free. In September, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appointed a minister to look after keeping the population at above 100 million; he also plans to expand home assistance to young people.

By comparison, our housing policy for young people is essentially nonexistent. The government has increased public rent supplies, but housing for the young and old fall far short of what the president previously pledged. The 4,800 homes in commuter towns around the capital promised for newlyweds are insufficient against the demand. So unless the government comes up with a better plan it cannot expect births to rise. JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 21, Page 30

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