Already low birth rate won't be going up anytime soon
More than half of Koreans aged 13 to 29 think having kids after getting married is not necessary, adding to concerns surrounding the country's already continuously low birth rate.
According to the 2020 Social Indicators released by Statistics Korea on Thursday, the number of respondents who said having children is not necessary increased in all ages. In particular, the numbers exceeded half for teenagers (60.6 percent) and those in their 20s (52.5 percent.)
The number lowered as the age groups got older, with 41.0 percent for those in their 30s, 34.6 percent for the 40s, 22.1 percent for the 50s and 12.1 percent for the 60s-and-older group.
When taking into consideration education level, those with a higher diploma felt children were less necessary: 37.2 percent of college graduates responded that having kids is not needed, followed by high school graduates (32.2 percent), middle school graduates (28.2 percent), and elementary school graduates or under (19.1 percent).
In other words, the younger and the higher the level of education, the more likely they are to think that they do not need children after marriage.
With more than half of Koreans under 30 not feeling the need for children, Korea's chronic birthrate problem is expected to worsen in the future.
Cho Young-tae, population research professor at Seoul National University Graduate School of Public Health, said, "In the past, the drop in birth rate was because people were marrying late. But the results show that [not wanting to have babies] have become a cultural phenomenon among the future generations, and it can be predicted that the marriage and birth rate of Korea could become worse than now."
Last year, the nation's total population was 51.78 million, and Statistics Korea predicted that the number is likely to recede after a peak in 2028 of 51.94 million.
The total fertility rate in 2020 was 0.84, down 0.08 points from the previous year, marking the lowest for four consecutive years after 2017.
The fertility rate per 1,000 women decreased in all age groups under 40, with the largest decrease for those in their early 30s (minus 7.2.)
More Koreans responded marriage is necessary, with 51.2 percent last year — a 3.1 percentage-point increase from 2019.
However, men and women showed different perceptions regarding both marriage and childbirth.
Regarding marriage, 58.2 percent of men responded it is necessary, while only 44.4 percent of women said the same, bringing the gap to 13.8 percentage points.
In addition, 72.7 percent of men said having children after marriage is necessary — 0.1 percentage points higher than the previous year — while 63.4 percent of women felt the same, down 3.2 percentage points from the previous year.
Over one out of five Koreans responded they feel lonely, marking the highest since 2016, with 22.3 percent last year. On the other hand, 70.5 percent responded they felt happy last year.
More than half of Koreans responded they could not accept having a homosexual as their spouse, friend, co-worker or neighbor, with 57 percent. Those who could not accept an ex-convict came in at 69.4 percent. Women had a more negative perception than men towards homosexuals and ex-convicts, while those aged 19-29 showed more inclusivity than other age groups.
Many Koreans felt there are many social conflicts in the nation, especially between the left and the right.
Last year, 85.4 percent of people cited the liberals and the conservatives as the most severe conflict, followed by the conflict between the poor and middle/upper class (82.7 percent), and between employees and employers (74.2 percent.) Conflicts between gender (48.8 percent), religion (55.4 percent) and age (60.9 percent) showed relatively lower numbers.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]