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New Fertility Rate Measures Announced

Posted June. 08, 2006 03:01,   


The childcare allowance which has been provided mainly to low-income classes so far will be also given to families earning less than 130 percent of the nation`s average urban household income. In addition, bills prohibiting discrimination in workplaces based on age will be institutionalized, and adopting employment guarantees to a certain limit of age will be taken into consideration.

Above is the outline of the “First Basic Plan for Low Fertility and Aging Society” (Saeromaji Plan 2010) announced by the government on June 7. Starting from this year, the government will invest 32.746 trillion won until 2010 in attempt to boost the nation’s total fertility rate to the OECD average of 1.6 by 2020.

According to the measures, beneficiaries of childcare and education allowances for children aged four or under will be extended to households earning less than 130 percent of the nation`s average household income. This is assumed to increase the portion of beneficial families from the current 50% to 90%.

The number of daycare facilities will also grow to 2,700, doubling the current level until 2010. In order to encourage childcare leaves, conditions to apply for them will be eased. From 2008, parents of children ages less than three will be applicable compared to the current one. In case of birth, the new measures will allow fathers to have three days of paternity leave. In addition, in order to reduce private education costs, after-school classes, currently given in a small number of model schools, are to be spread to all elementary schools until 2010.

As a countermeasure against the aging society, the government has also decided to legislate against age discrimination in workplaces. The government will also discuss about obliging age limits to guarantee elderly employment.

There is criticism, however, that measures announced this day were restricted to partial matters such as childcare allowances. Jo Yeong-tae, a professor of demography at the Graduate School of Public Health at Seoul National University, indicated that “although childcare allowances are required, they had little effect in countries such as Spain, Japan and Italy. Instead of investing money in trivial projects, we should take a long-term view and create a cultural atmosphere for gender equality.”

Sang-Hoon Kim corekim@donga.com