It costs W262 million to bring up a child until graduation from university in Korea (US$1=W1,126), according to a report by Kim Seung-kwon, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs. The report, which is based on a survey of a total of 9,705 households with children, argues that the heavy burden of child rearing is a major cause for the country's notorious low birthrates.
The older a child gets, the higher the cost. It costs W24.66 million to raise a child in the first three years after birth and W29.376 million for the next three years, according to Kim's report. Some W63 million is then needed during the six-year elementary school period, W35.352 million for the three-year middle school period, W41.544 million for the three-year high school period, and W68.112 million for four years at college.
The costs were calculated without taking additional and unpredicted expenses into account such as leave of absence from school, added preparation for the college entrance exam, or overseas language training.
The monthly average cost per child increased from W748,000 in 2003 to W1.009 million in 2009. Private tutoring expenses account for the largest proportion at W230,000.
About half, or 49.6 percent, of parents think they are responsible for raising their children until they graduate from university. One in four parents, or 23.1 percent, believe they should take care of their children until they marry. Five percent think they should take care of them forever.
"The responsibilities Korean parents are taking on are too heavy. The large proportion of tutoring expenses shows that private education is ruinously expensive," Kim said.