South Korea has the lowest birth rate in the world, and it is predicted to cause a demographic and economic crisis. The average number of babies expected per South Korean woman dropped to a new record low of 0.78 in 2022, down from the previous year’s record low of 0.81.
In an effort to reverse the trend of declining birth rates, the central and local governments of South Korea are offering payments and other benefits to individuals who have children. Infants up to the age of one receive 700,000 won ($528) per month, while those under two are given 350,000 won ($264). The payments are expected to increase to 1 million won ($755) and 500,000 won ($377), respectively, by 2024. Additionally, children up until elementary school age receive an extra 200,000 won ($151) per month, and low-income households and single parents can apply for further financial support.
It is uncertain whether providing financial incentives can actually alleviate South Korea’s demographic problems.
For many South Koreans, opting out of marriage and parenthood is just a personal choice.