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Public Servants Having More Children

Posted June. 06, 2006 07:13,   


“Shall we have another baby before it is too late?” Han (33), who is a ninth grade public servant working at the Gwacheon Government Complex, thought over this question for days after her husband brought the issue early last month. She was already finding it difficult to raise her 4-year-old son though her mother, who lives nearby, looks after him while she’s working. Nevertheless, she and her husband made a bold decision to have a second child, for her work guarantees a one-year maternity leave without pay, after which she can come back and work, and her mother is there to support her.

According to a survey, females working for the government or public companies such as Han are twice more likely to have a second child than those working at private companies.

Public servants have better childcare support systems-

Professor Cho Young-tae of Seoul National University and his team released a paper entitled “Socioeconomic status and fertility” yesterday, which analyzes the childbearing pattern of 1,438 married women between the ages of 25 and 34. The survey was conducted over two years and eight months since January 2001 till August 2003.

According to the paper, 28 percent of surveyed women working for private firms, excluding the self-employed, gave birth to a second child during the survey period. Meanwhile, in the case of public servants and public company workers, the rate was 51 percent.

Among women who did not have a child in the beginning of the survey, 32 percent of public servants and 35 percent of private firm employees had their first child during the survey period, indicating that not much difference exists regarding the first child bearing.

Professor Cho cited well-established maternity leave and childcare leave system of public offices and the ease with which females can return to their work after giving birth as reasons for a higher percentage of female public servants having a second child.

Among regular workers with secure jobs and self-employed women, 41 percent of those with a child gave birth to the second child during the survey period. In contrast, only 30 percent of female temporary or daily workers had their second child, showing a link between “job security” and a second child.

Parents’ help has a big influence on childbirth-

Among females without a child, 72 percent of those who can receive their parents’ help with childrearing and housework gave birth during the survey period. However, the ratio was only 39 percent for females without such help.

In case of the second child, the difference was smaller with 55 percent and 49 percent respectively, because many chose to stop working after having their first child.

However, the gap becomes wider for working women. During the survey period, 65 percent of working women with parental support gave birth while only 17 percent of those without such support had a child.

Professor Cho pointed out that the government’s measures to tackle low fertility rate do not take into consideration the support for grandparents looking after their grandchild.

Financial status unrelated to fertility-

The common belief of “more money, more kids” could not be proven through this paper, because no correlation was found to exist between income and fertility.

Consumption and fertility are shown to be related, but that is because more child means increased spending.

“The government’s measures to boost the fertility rate by providing childcare support to low-income families may be meaningful as a ‘welfare policy,’ but they will be ineffective in solving the problem in the short term,” professor Cho said.

Joong-Hyun Park sanjuck@donga.com