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Young couples wish for better work-life balance as childcare policy

Young couples wish for better work-life balance as childcare policy

Posted March. 27, 2023 07:41,   

Updated March. 27, 2023 07:41


Declining birth rates may indicate that the younger generation does not want children. However, an in-depth interview by the Dong-A Ilbo of 60 people in their 20s and 30s, including 40 government youth advisory panel members, showed they wished to have an average of 1.22 children. A similar survey by the Korea Development Institute of 2,000 single men and women aged 24 to 49 showed they wished to have 1.96 children. This reflects that many youths wish to have children but are hesitant to have them and that if the government provides support, they might be willing to have more, boosting currently low birth rates at 0.78.

They pointed out that work/life balance was the most critical factor in boosting birth rates. Rather than relying on childcare support, they wish to have a work-life balance where they have time to look after their own children. However, the younger generation is not happy with current parental leave policies because they cannot afford to use leave at their own discretion. Only 29 out of 100 parents use parental leave. Parents can also work shorter hours to care for their children, but it is not easy to apply. It is worth considering implementing certification for companies that provide “Excellence in Work-Life Balance” and offering corporate tax discounts to high-performers.

Many pointed out that current childcare policies do not reflect actual needs, such as support for households with multiple children. It has become rare for couples to have two children, with 63% of births last year being first born children. However, multiple children benefits are mostly offered to households with at least three children. Low mortgage rates offered to newly-wedded couples are limited to those with an annual income of 50 million to 70 million, which makes many non-eligible. Given that high housing costs contribute to low birth rates, we must reduce hurdles for mortgage support.

The number of newborns last year was 249,000. If current birth rates persist, the number of newborns each year would shrink to 150,000- 160,000, dropping to 100,000 in 10 years, bringing catastrophic impacts to the society. We should modify the social system based on births of two children per household and help young couples who wish to raise children on their own through work-life balance. We look forward to significant changes in the government’s childcare policy to be announced this week.