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Demographic winter? Korea is not alone

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By Richard Pennington

Hardly a day goes by without my opening The Korea Times or one of Seoul's other newspapers and finding a story or two about this country's most distressing problem―our low birth rate and its long-term demographic implications.

As much as I value old folks, the truth is that we need more babies! I live and work near Gangnam Station, and kids are so few here that when one of them walks down the street, I practically stop and stare. If children are our future, what kind of future are we going to have in light of this dearth of youngsters?

The statistics are, or should be, familiar to all of us. The fertility rate is now 0.92 per woman, well below the 2.1 needed to maintain a stable population. Almost 52 million people live in Korea, a number that is expected to peak in four years and then begin to decline. There were about 303,000 births in 2019, a more than 50 percent drop from 2000. The number of marriages last year also fell to a new low―239,200. These figures bode ill for Korea.

A summary of how we got here is as follows. Almost as soon as he seized power in 1961, Park Chung-hee began emphasizing a reduction in the birth rate (more........

© The Korea Times

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