FEATURE2 July 2018

Motherhood in South Korea

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Asia Pacific Features Impact Trends Youth

The decline of birth rates is changing the face of motherhood globally, but this cultural shift is most prevalent in South Korea. Katie Mitchell, consultant at The Leading Edge, discusses the findings of a recent study.

Motherhood in SK

Birth rates are dropping rapidly in South Korea – according to Statistics Korea it has the lowest in the world. This is blamed on a tricky economy where two incomes are needed to keep a family afloat, alongside a competitive job market and, unsurprisingly, the  evolving role of women in the home and in the workplace.  

The government is pumping money into trying to tackle this problem by reforming maternity and paternity leave, but it has not had much impact. More than £50bn has been invested in initiatives such as subsidising IVF, and offering financial support for childcare, but again, with little effect. Birth rates are very low at 8.3% (average number of births per 1, 000 population per year) compared with a global average of 19% (CIA World Factbook). 

South Korea started in a similar place to most of the world; women there were expected ...