South Korean president calls for efforts to boost birthrate

Seoul, Dec 10 (IANS) South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Thursday called for drastic efforts to raise the country’s low birthrate as she blamed delayed marriages and unemployment for the situation.

South Korea has tried to address the issue of its low birthrate by spending about 80 trillion won ($68 billion) since 2005, when its total fertility rate stood at 1.08, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The efforts paid off a bit as the total fertility rate edged up to 1.2 in 2014.

Still, South Korea is facing challenges to raise the fertility rate to 2.1, the replacement rate that would keep its population stable.

The rising cost of raising a child and job shortages have discouraged women from having more children in recent years.

Park said late marriage is to blame for the low birthrate, noting young people delayed marriage as they do not have decent jobs.

“The issue is a very difficult task the older generation and our people should jointly resolve for the future of our country and for the generations to come,” Park said in a meeting designed to come up with measures to address the low birthrate.

Park also called for efforts to increase regular jobs, saying the government is pushing for labour reform to create jobs for young people and revitalise Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

The parliament failed to approve a set of bills meant to reform the country’s labour markets on Wednesday.

Park also called for efforts to address the rapidly aging population.

By 2018, South Korea is expected to become an “aged society,” in which 14 percent of the population is 65 or older.

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