09/28/2018, 14.20
SOUTH KOREA
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South Korea’s birthrate still dropping

Some 27,000 children were born in July, 8.2 per cent less than in 2017. Since December 2015, the birth rate has been falling each month. Government efforts are not enough. The Church is playing a role.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The number of newborns in South Korea dropped again. About 27,000 babies were born in July, down 8.2 per cent from the 29,400 a year earlier, government data show.

This trend has continued since December 2015 with the number of childbirths steadily decreasing every month.

In the first seven months of this year, the overall number of newborns fell 8.6 per cent on-year to 198,700.  The number of babies born in all of 2017 was 357,771, down 11.9 per cent, or 48,500, from a year earlier.

This has happened despite efforts by South Korean authorities to boost the birthrate. Over the past decade, the government has poured 80 trillion won ( billion) into dealing with the low birthrate, offering various incentives, such as cash rewards, without much success.

Another measure has been parental leave. The government has tried to encourage more fathers to apply for it, hoping to counter one of the main causes of low fertility, namely gender inequality in wages and house work.

More working fathers have applied for parental leave but usually they are civil servants or full-time workers in big conglomerates.

Employees in small and medium-size companies are reluctant to ask for a leave fearing loss of status or even their job.

For her part, the Catholic Church stands with families and young spouses, through various projects, in particular preparing young couples to appreciate the value of family and life.

For Fr Choi Pio Sang Soon, from the family pastoral outreach in Daejon, it is necessary to accompany young people to help them out of the selfishness that leads to rejecting "marriage, family and life".

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