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Local governments trying to increase birth rates to prevent communities from disappearing

Arirang News
Arirang News
Research by the Korea Employment Information Service shows about 90 out of 228 districts in South Korea face the risk of disappearing within the next 30 years due to the nation's chronically low birthrate.
Hong Yoo reports.

South Korea's birth rate continues to drop, and is a major concern for local governments.
But those concerns are even greater for rural communities, which face the risk of disappearing.
In many rural areas, the number of women of childbearing age is not even half that of the elderly population.

"This is a school in Yangyang-gun, the region with the lowest birth rate in Gangwon-do province.
Only 24 students are enrolled in this school, and that number could fall further. The kindergarten only has 10 students enrolled."

In the past year alone, four schools in Gangwon-do Province have closed down.

To try to prevent the disappearance of rural communities, local governments are increasing their childbirth grants and child support funds in an attempt to boost birth rates.

Gangwon-do Province is planning to give out around 700 U.S. dollars per month for every child born in the province starting from January.

And after increasing its childbirth grants, Yeongdong-gun in Chungcheongbuk-do province saw an increase in its birthrate after 10 years of continuous decline.
In 2016, Yeongdong-gun gave parents about 300 U.S. dollars for having their first child and about 500 dollars for their second child.
But in 2017, this was increased to 3500 dollars for the first child and 3800 dollars for the second child.

"We thought economic support would be the most important thing in the process of raising children, so we thought it would be necessary to raise the childbirth grants for the first and second child based on the size of general families. As a result, our number of newborns increased with 71 more than last year, making it the nation's number one area for birth rate growth."

But there are questions over whether these measures are actually effective.
Some say that local governments should keep the plan because it has a significant effect on promoting childbirth but some say it's like a bottomless pit.

"It's not a single factor that influences child birth. Giving out childbirth grants is an important measure but the birth rate cannot be increased with only that.
That should be a common policy, but it is necessary to analyze the causes of the decline in childbirth by region and implement customized and differentiated policies for each region."

Hong Yoo, Arirang News.

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