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Why South Korea’s Youth Cannot Begin Families

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South Korea hosts one of the lowest birth rates in the modern world. The nation’s population began decreasing significantly in 2021. Statistics Korea reported that only 249,000 babies were born in 2022, marking a 4.4% decline from 2021. The birth rate needs to stay at 2.1 to maintain the current population of 52 million, however, the current birth rate is only 0.78. A look into the finances of South Korea’s youth makes it quite obvious why couples are not reproducing.

The 2022 Seoul Young Adult Panel Study found that 55.6% of the youth were in asset poverty, meaning they did not have the liquidity to cover their basic needs for three months. This figure spikes to 62.7% when accounting for those living alone. Young adults aged 19 to 24 have a personal income poverty rate of 73.4%, which accounts for an income beneath 50% of the average median. Of the 5,083 people under the age of 35 polled, 47.5% still live at home with their parents and 41.2% rely on parental financial support.

Birthing Person

The same situation can be seen throughout the modern world. The youth cannot afford to support themselves let alone families. South Korea’s government has attempted to entice couples by offering prolonged maternity leave. President Yoon Suk-yeol is also offering 700,000 won per month ($540) to couples with children under one.

Unemployment among Korean youth is also a serious problem. Statistics Korea reported that nearly half (45.5%) of people aged 15 to 29 were unemployed for over a year. These teens and young adults went to school and worked for a successful future only for 44.3% of graduates to find themselves unemployed after university ended. It is no wonder that the Seoul Metropolitan Government and Seoul Institute reported that 34.7% of Seoul’s youth are suffering from depression. Young couples cannot afford to have families and the population crisis will continue throughout the modern world as the global economy turns down.