(Bloomberg) – After years of unsuccessful efforts to raise the birth rate, the South Korean government now says it will focus some of its energy on learning to cope with the declining population, rather than just trying to stop it.
The government has “found it to be difficult to reverse the trend of the low birth rate in the near future” and will therefore take a “two-track” approach to encouraging births, while finding ways to adjust the rate. economy to a declining and aging population, according to a joint statement from 11 ministries on Wednesday.
South Korea’s population drops for the first time amid pandemic
South Korea’s fertility rate, which was 0.92, was the lowest in the world in 2019, and likely fell further last year as the uncertainty of the pandemic discouraged young people from marrying and to have children. The population fell for the first time last year, as more people choosing to live alone pushed the number of households to a record high.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the negative shock of the declining population by causing career breaks for women facing increased childcare burdens and disrupting the influx of foreign workers,” said the communicated.
The statement announced the launch of a third government working group on population policy since President Moon Jae-in took office in 2017, and outlined its goals.
To minimize the economic impact of a declining population, the government plans to encourage more women and older people to stay in the workforce, while looking for ways to accept more foreign workers.
The government will develop a new visa to attract researchers and other professionals from abroad, while providing ways to help retirees start their own businesses.
Korea will also strengthen “legal and institutional support” for non-traditional types of families, such as those based on common-law marriage or unmarried couples with babies. Various residential and security measures for isolated households will be considered.
The government plans to publish detailed measures from May.
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