South Korea battles low birth rate

SEOUL, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- South Korea, facing a chronic low birth rate, says it will allow women to ask for shorter working hours so they can better raise their children.

The Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs said the proposal to encourage childbirth and deal with population aging aims to make it easier for women to maintain their jobs and take care of their families, Yonhap News Agency reported Friday.


Under the proposal to be finalized in October, the government will make it mandatory for employers to allow women who have children to work less, with the corresponding reduction in salary compensated by child-care and maternity leave pay.

Currently, employers can permit flexible working hours but they aren't compelled to do so, making it difficult for mothers to juggle child-rearing and jobs.

This has been cited as one reason for the country's low birthrate, which could hamper economic growth potential and increase future social costs.

South Korea's birthrate, the average number of children born to each woman in her lifetime, stands at around 1.15 babies, lower than the average tallied by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development of 1.71.


The ministry said such measures are necessary because South Korea is expected to enter a net population contraction period in 2019 with 38.2 percent of the population over 65 years old by 2050.

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