August 30, 2021 13:15
One in every six men who became a father last year was over 40. According to Statistics Korea on Sunday, 45,974 new fathers last year were over 40, taking up 17.1 percent of the fathers of 269,584 babies born last year.
The age of the fathers of 2,753 babies was not known because the information was omitted in their birth certificates.
In 1993, when these kinds of statistics began, a mere 2.1 percent of all fathers were over 40, and their proportion only surpassed 10 percent in 2012. That makes the rise dramatic by any standards. The reason is probably a combination of factors, not least advanced medical care and the fact that many feel they cannot afford to get married until later in life.
"Some dads are over 60 or even 70," said an obstetrics professor at a university hospital in Seoul. "The later in life they get married and the more people get remarried, the older dads will be."
But the birthrate is falling apace. The number of newborns kept falling for five years in a row from 406,243 in 2016 to 272,337 last year, and the proportion of younger fathers also fell. But the proportion of fathers over 50 rose from 0.4 percent to 0.9 percent over the period.
There are worries that older parents will shoulder a heavier financial burden in retirement if their kids are still dependent on them.
Childcare costs are also increasing. According to the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, the monthly childcare bill per child increased W643,000 in 2015 to W733,000 in 2018 (US$1=W1,170).
Among older fathers, actor Kim Yong-gun (75) made headlines recently when it was reported that his much younger girlfriend was expecting a baby.
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