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[Editorial] No Babies, No Future

Posted May. 09, 2006 04:18,   


What is more serious than the lowest fertility rate in the world is that there is a lack of perception in Korea of the possible catastrophe that such a low rate would bring. Advanced countries have devised measures early on and successfully raised their fertility rate back up. Meanwhile, Korea has neglected its low rate and let it plummet. In 2000, the rate fell below the danger-mark of 1.5 and further down to 1.08 in just five years. A “one child per family” system became widespread. An increase in the number of singles and late marriages also has fueled the low birth rate.

The consequent reduction in population will seriously threaten Korea’s economy and its pension system. Moreover, it could even change social components and tradition. A reduction in labor force and increase in wages inevitably lead to an economic downturn. If the resulting burden becomes unbearable by the young population, the pension will be gone, possibly turning the entire baby boom generation into welfare refugees. If there are not enough men to serve in the military, women could be forced to serve.

This is how desperate the current situation is. However, people do not feel the severity of the problem keenly enough, which causes them to be ignorant of the problem. Another contributor is that the young generation was not thoroughly educated about the joy that children bring. Pope Benedict XVI pointed out, “Due to a lack of love, young men and women of today do not marry, fail even if they do, which is bringing down the fertility rate.” His words should be heeded.

The low birth rate is a catastrophe more scary and complex than population explosion. Nevertheless, politicians and the government only have a superficial interest in the issue because although the elderly have voting rights, children yet to be born will not yield any political influence. In Japan, local mid-sized cities with a population of over 100,000 are collapsing due to population decrease that stems from low fertility rate. If their birth rates remain low, Korean cities will follow suit, starting with the small cities. Before it is too late, the government must come up with a plan. In addition, a large incentive and education expenses support should be provided to families that have a second or third child. Countries with no babies do not have a future.