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Yoon orders review of low birth rate policies

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : March 28, 2023 - 18:36

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President Yoon Suk Yeol (Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol (Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol has ordered a reevaluation of low birth rate policies and an inquiry into the reasons for their failure, expressing that he is determined to address the issue of South Korea's low fertility rate, which is currently the lowest in the world.

“The low birth rate issue is an important national agenda, and the government and the private sector must work together to solve it,” Yoon said on Tuesday during his opening remarks at the first meeting of the Presidential Committee on Aging Society and Population Policy.

“Despite a significant investment of 280 trillion won over the past 15 years, the total fertility rate in 2022 reached a record low of 0.78,” Yoon said,

Noting that the issue of low birth rate is complex and intertwined with various social and cultural factors such as welfare, education, jobs, housing and taxation, Yoon called for bold measures and the necessary financial investments to ensure that the “state takes responsibility and guarantees” the joy of bearing and raising children.

He also called on his officials to check whether the existing system is being applied on the ground.

Many of the laborers from small and medium-sized businesses and non-regular workers "find it difficult to properly use" maternity, parenting and care leave guaranteed even by law, he said.

“In the absence of a good culture for childbirth and child-rearing, new policies alone cannot solve the low birthrate problem,” he said.

The government plans to provide more support in areas such as care and education, flexible work arrangements, parental leave, housing stability and child support to alleviate the burden on parents and infertile couples.