Korea needs to increase its birthrate from 1.24 in 2011 to at least 1.8 if it wants to maintain its national power, according to a study. The study released on World Population Day on Wednesday by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs stresses the need to increase the birthrate to about 1.8 over the next decade to maintain the population at over 50 million.
This would enable Korea to maintain its social, economic and defense power while minimizing the population decline, the institute speculates.
The institute warns that too many people avoid marriage and childbirth. In the report, it calls for "a new system which provides welfare or insurance covered jointly by the government and employers because it is difficult for women to take maternity under the current employment insurance."
According to Statistics Korea, 58,137 employees took parental leave last year, up about 8.5 times the number in 2003 (6,816). But it remains realistically difficult to take maternity leave, and many women delay marriage or hold on to their jobs, which becomes a major reason for the low birthrate and aging population.
In a survey of 2,200 married women in 2008, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family found that more than half, or 53.4 percent, of respondents quit their jobs because of marriage, pregnancy or childbirth, while according to a survey by the Korean Women's Development Institute last year a mere 18.3 percent said they had taken maternity leave.