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South Korea Launches New Ministry to Address Declining Birth Rates

South Korea's President Yoon Suk Yeol announced plans to establish a new ministry aimed at tackling the country's persistently low birth rate, which hit a record low last year despite significant investment in initiatives to promote childbirth. Speaking in a televised address to the nation, President Yoon emphasized the urgent need to address this demographic challenge, considering South Korea's birth rate is currently the world's lowest.

Official data reveals that South Korea's fertility rate dropped to 0.72 in 2023, a significant decline of nearly eight percent from the previous year. This figure falls well below the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman needed to maintain the current population level of 51 million. Experts warn that if current trends persist, the population could nearly halve by the year 2100.

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Notably, South Korea's birth rate of 0.72 is the lowest among OECD nations, while the average age of childbirth, at 33.6, is the highest in the OECD. Despite government efforts, which include cash subsidies, childcare services, and support for infertility treatments, the decline in birth rates has continued unabated.

President Yoon's proposal for a dedicated ministry to address the low birth rate underscores the gravity of the situation. This announcement came ahead of his first press conference in nearly two years, following his party's significant defeat in the recent general elections.

The establishment of a Ministry of Low Birth Rate Counter Planning reflects South Korea's recognition of the pressing need to reverse the declining birth rate and address the looming demographic crisis. As the country grapples with these challenges, concerted efforts will be required to implement effective policies and initiatives aimed at encouraging childbirth and ensuring population stability for the future.

May 9, 2024 10:46 a.m. 5635

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