July 06, 2018 13:10
Only some 320,000 babies are expected to be born this year, bringing the fertility rate to below 1 per woman for the first time, a presidential committee tasked with tackling Korea's declining births said Thursday. That is even lower than the record low of 1.05 last year, when some 360,000 babies were born.
The committee warned the number of newborns could fall below 300,000 before 2022. Korea will become the world's only country with a birthrate below 1. Taiwan, Singapore and Hong Kong have had a birthrate below 1 in the past but have now recovered to 1.2 to 1.3.
To stem the trend, the government announced a series of measures which include lending up to W400 million to young couples who qualify for apartments complexes exclusive for newly-weds with a fixed interest rate of 1.3 percent per year over 30 years (US$1=W1,119).
It will also permit parents with children under 8 to work an hour less every day without a pay cut. The government also decided to give new fathers 10 days' paid paternity leave, up from the current five.
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