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South Korea’s falling population

Date: 05 January 2021 Tags: Reports & Indices

Issue

For the first time in history, the number of deaths recorded in South Korea over the past year exceeded births, causing the country’s population to decline.

 

Background

The number of new births fell by 10 percent from 2019. This has worried the government regarding future aspects.

 

Details

  • In many parts of the world, greater economic development and lower fertility rates often go hand in hand.

  • South Korea already has the world’s lowest birth rate at 0.92 as of 2019. This figure is substantially lower than the fertility rate of 2.1 required for replacement of the existing population.

  • The growth rate of South Korea’s population declined from 1.49% in 2010 to 0.05% by 2019. If this trend continues, the government predicts that the population will drop from the current 5.18 crore to 3.9 crore by 2067, and 46 percent of people will be above 64 years of age.

  • Some of the reasons believed to be behind the low rate birth rate in South Korea include reluctance to opt for maternity leave, as well as high real estate prices, which dissuade young couples from buying a house and starting a family.

 

Government’s actions

  • The government has announced policies such as giving cash incentives for families. The scheme, which starts in 2022, will provide a one-off payment of 2 million won for each child born, to help cover parental costs.

  • Until the baby turns one, the government will pay an additional 300,000 won every month. After 2025, the incentive will be raised to 500,000 won.

 

Impact of dwindling population

  • When the young population in a country declines, it creates labour shortages, which have a major detrimental impact on the economy.

  • More older people also means that demands for healthcare and pensions can soar, burdening the country’s social spending system further when fewer people are working and contributing to it.

  • However, low birth rates can improve the standard of living in low-income countries. In such countries, fewer children being born would mean they would enjoy greater access to already deficient public services such as health and education.

  • Another effect of a declining population is that it would provide an impetus to migration. As nations with falling numbers of young people would experience labour shortages, they would have to open up borders and allow more immigrants to come in and work, thus causing their society to become more cosmopolitan.

 

Global population trend

  •  The world population will peak at 973 crore people in 2064, and will decline from this peak to 879 crore in 2100.

  • In India, the population is expected to reach a peak of 160 crore in 2048, up from 138 crore in 2017, and will decline by 32 percent to 109 crore in 2100.