December 4, 2022

"South Korea recently broke its own record for the world’s lowest fertility rate. Figures released in November..."

"... showed the average number of children a South Korean woman will have in her lifetime is down to just 0.79. That is far below the 2.1 needed to maintain a stable population and low even compared to other developed countries where the rate is falling, such as the United States (1.6) and Japan – which at 1.3 reported its own lowest rate on record. And it spells trouble for a country with an aging population that faces a looming shortage of workers to support its pension system.... [M]ore than $200 billion has been spent trying to boost the population over the past 16 years.... A monthly allowance for parents with babies up to 1-year-old will increase from the current 300,000 won to 700,000 won ($230 to $540) in 2023 and to 1 million Korean won ($770) by 2024.... Government-funded nurseries are free..."

From "South Korea spent $200 billion, but it can’t pay people enough to have a baby" (CNN).

"Lee Jin-song, who has written books about the trend of young people choosing not to get married or have a baby... pointed to a common joke that in South Korea, 'if you are not dating by the time you are 25, you’ll turn into a crane, meaning if you’re single you become non-human.' She said society considers her, and others like her, selfish for not conforming to the traditional expectations of marriage and children, 'neglecting their duties for society only for the sake of their happiness.'"

There's a problem with that pro-child propaganda. To my ear, it conveys the message that you'd should not have children. You're supposed to do it for the good of the group, not for your own happiness, and the more money they throw at you, the more it emphasizes how expensive it will be to have a child. And that crane "joke" is just overtly dehumanizing. 

Even if you want to do what is good for society, how much can your one or 2 children change such a gigantic trend? It's such a huge personal change to have a child, but it has only a tiny effect on the country as a whole. That's why they've resorted to big economic incentives (along with bullying). But it's still not enough. 

A 0.79 birthrate!

42 comments:

RideSpaceMountain said...

It's stranger still when you consider how much better the nuclear family safety net is generally in Asian countries. The grandparents are usually super active in helping with the children. In China during one-child they even had a name for it (小皇帝 - little emperor) because of how spoiled these babies are.

I wish I had that kind of network right now, let me tell ya.

Achilles said...

All pensions and retirements from government and corporate sources should be tied to how many children you had and raised.

You should not be eligible for any government assistance without children.

SS should not be means tested. It should be restricted to parents of 2 or more children though.

Readering said...

Effectiveness of autocratic rule: North Korea way up there at 1.9. Another reason to reunite--get all those North Korean kids.

mccullough said...

Decline is a choice. The future belongs to those who show up

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

#UnsaidThings behind SCOTUS chambers.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

So they have a pension funding issue and a birthrate issue.

They can kill two birds with one stone. Get rid of the pension system.

If you want security in old age have children and raise them to be productive adults. That is the natural incentive. We only have a problem because governments around the world decided they knew better.

Richard Aubrey said...

Is this a cultural issue? Is there an actual, objective handicap for parents which is not like other places where having a kid nets out pretty good?
Is there any kind of competitive strain for top ed slots and if your kid doesn't make it, you're a loser?
Why the hell not have kids?

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

Low birth rates present an existential problem for environmentalism.

They way I see it, they need people to blame for environmental catastrophes and they need people to declare victims of man made environmental catastrophes.

Low birth rates are… a man made environmental catastrophe.

n.n said...

The handmaid. The surrogate. The actress. The friend with "benefits". The kitchen, and the fork that ran away with the spoon, too. The political congruence. The beast of "burden", okay. The irreconcilable differences of Venus and Mars projected unto Earth. The rings of Uranus, choking.

rhhardin said...

French grue = crane, hooker

YoungHegelian said...

How can a government possibly afford to "bribe" a woman to have babies? Whatever money the government mirth shell out at the birth of the baby will be dwarfed by the costs of raising the child for 18-21 years. No woman is stupid enough not to realize this.

Quite a few governments have tried the bribe, and it never works. What works is social pressure, and a societal sense that it's expected and a honored thing for a woman to do.

I understand why women wouldn't want to have children, but the generations after me (e.g. around 2050) will soon be feeling the demographic pressures brought about by no youngsters in the pipeline on everything from housing to employment to their beloved re-distributive social programs.

Feminism is (was?) a fascinating social experiment, but sometimes experiments don't work. It may be that societies that don't chain their women to the bed just simply die out.

Original Mike said...

Well, they've heard the world is ending, so…

Gusty Winds said...

Coincidentally, American Liberal Feminists want to be able to abort a 0.79% baby for whatever reason.

wildswan said...

The welfare state, especially Social Security, will collapse in societies where births fall below replacement levels. The simple reason is this: Who will fund your life when you stop working? Everyone has four grandparents - the question is: do you have three sisters and brothers to help you take care of them? Do you have even one? Or turn it around: do you have even one grandchild to take care of you? The welfare state assumes that a majority of families have several children who are looked after by their parents and who look after their parents (and a few other childless adults) in turn as adults. This simple plan has been lost sight of. But Social Security will crash (following by some years upon a birth crash) whether people understand the relationship or not. The only thing people who are young today can do for themselves is have children. That is who will be there when the welfare state goes.
But motherhood demands more than facts about the future? Yes. History shows that only the religious element in society as group keeps up its birthrate because a religion (any religion, any society) teaches human values in the interest of a farther future. Secular societies actually teach living for oneself in the present and though many secularists are better than their philosophy, it's not enough.

Yancey Ward said...

The Koreans will be gone by the 22nd century. The Japanese will be gone by the year 2150. The US will straggle on as a third world shit-hole from about 2050 forward with isolated pockets of civilization that will shrink year after year as the people and their descendents who built the country finally die off. Two- to three-hundred years from now, you won't even know we were here.

Robert Marshall said...

Let's see, what is it that could be demoralizing the potentially-procreative population:

1. All of our media yack constantly about how any babies you have will add to the environmental catastrophe climate crisis emergency that they talk about 24/7/365. Greta asks, how dare you!!??!!

2. We don't even know what "men" and "women" are, not any more, and that may have something to do with procreation, or at least the deplorables seem to think so, and it's all so oppressive and confusing, anyway!

3. They're running the most productive economy the world has known into the ground, creating conditions where prospective parents can't even imagine how they'd pay the costs of raising, housing and educating their children, while at the same time keeping their own parents in the style to which they've become accustomed.

4. And if you go the "free" route of public schooling, then you have to wonder if some purple-haired non-binary teacher with lots of piercings and tattoos is going to be taking your child, without consulting you, to get hormone treatments and a general surgical re-arrangement of genitalia from the local gender-bender clinic. Or else they'll KILL themselves!!!

Is all that discouraging enough?

Joe said...

Back in the day (in the '60s) when my teachers, friends and classmates worried about over-population I would think "If you think THAT'S a problem, just wait until you see what UNDER-population does."
Looks like N. Korea is proving my point decades later.

chickelit said...

Why is this a problem? It's all voluntary. You can't force people to have kids. I had to beg my wife to have kids. She later confessed it was the best thing that happened to her.

farmgirl said...

n.n.: it’s the dish that runs away w/the spoon.
Be that as it may- be careful what you wish for, eh?

Bellyaching about overpopulation for how long. We’ve been “increasing at a decreasing rate” for decades.

typingtalker said...

We were told during the recent pandemic, that parents couldn't work because they had to stay home with the kids that were locked out of school. One more check on the "no kids" side of the fertility ledger.

chickelit said...

The future belongs to those who show up. South Korean doesn't have much of future. Perhaps that want it that way.

rhhardin said...

No babies means the retirement age goes up, is all. The old support the older.

Original Mike said...

"Two- to three-hundred years from now, you won't even know we were here."

The rusting hulks of butt ugly windmills will still be here.

Blackbeard said...

Although South Korea is on the leading edge, this is a near-universal problem throughout the developed world. Contra Paul Ehrlich and the other neo-Malthusians the problem is the opposite of overpopulation.

https://edwest.substack.com/p/children-of-men-is-really-happening

Gahrie said...

Why the hell not have kids?

Because that requires sacrifice and delayed gratification, something the younger generations know very little about.

n.n said...

farmgirl, the dish and the spoon are in an open relationship... then a ladle makes two, and a fork for a spork in Posterity, and a cow that jumps over the moon. Whimsical. Now, don't harsh my mellow.

Gahrie said...

"Two- to three-hundred years from now, you won't even know we were here."

It depends. I'm betting on Musk. If he succeeds in opening up a new frontier, literally a whole universe, then even if the United States does fall, she will not be forgotten. The newly invigorated colonies will remember her as we remember our old homelands.

gspencer said...

As most AA readers will know, S.Korea is not alone in this phenomenon.

Peter Zeihan Reveals China's Unstoppable Population Collapse,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Me2G6FJZMI

farmgirl said...

n.n.: my bad!!
Mellow away and thank you for a new spin on an old rhyme:0)

Readering said...

The future belongs to Africa and some Pacific Islands.

Howard said...

Unlike you people, Peter Zeihan is very very bullish on the USA.

pacwest said...

All ponzi schemes collapse at some point.

Mason G said...

How many potential parents would choose to bring children into a world where their prospects for the future are (at best) to be eating bugs and keeping warm by burning dung?

You can thank the Green New Deal (and its supporters) for this.

rcocean said...

Have you ever been to Japan or Korea? THey're incredibly crowded. And they went through a Population explosion in the 30 years after WW II that makes the US Baby boom look mild in comparison.

THese two countries don't need population growth. They could easily lose 10-20 percent of their population, and everything will be better. Yes, there will be some short term pain but in 20 years time the demographics will right themselves.

Oh but RC, if they keep having 1.o children, their society will DISAPPEAR!! Yes, but these trends correct themselves. People were doing the same the thing with the baby boom in the 60's. Why is current trends continue we'll have 500 million Americans by 1990. "Current trends" don't continue forever. Because people change as the situation changes.

rcocean said...

I agree with others. Numbers mean everything. A USA with 400 million will be powerful. A USA with 200 million will be helpless pitiful country. Nigeria will eat us for lunch. And lets not even talk about India!

All the Nigerians/Indians have to do is land their army of 50 million men on the USA coast. THen we're finished!

ken in tx said...

This is strange news to me. When I was in S. Korea, in the 1980s, children and family was the main cultural value of everyone. A man was not considered an adult until he had children. When my first grandson was born, the whole office came an bowed down to me as a Grandfather, or 'High Uncle' as their term translated. This change must have something to do with the women.

walter said...

87% "vaccination" rate.

Magson said...

Koreans generally (exceptions exist, obviously) don't even start to think about marriage until they're in their 30's and well established in a career. And when in their career, due to long work hours and the expense of childcare, private pre-schools and after-school "academies" that generally start around age 3... well, it's not a very conducive environment for child-rearing. Add in the massive pressure put on their kids to excel in school and thus one of the world's highest suicide rates on top of that and... yeah, it's no surprise that they simply aren't having kids.

And like rcocean said above, it's a very small country (fits easily in the eastern half of Colorado) and is about 80% mountainous with 51 million people crammed into the little remaining space, though about half of that is all jammed into the Seoul area which is why pictures of that city so often look like endless rows of 40-story apartment buildings.

jk said...

I remain confused as to why we're told to panic about replacement rate at the same time we're told that most jobs will soon be replaced by AI and robots.

Readering said...

Andrew Sullivan on twitter links to new meta-analysis study on declining sperm count worldwide. Previously many studies on Europe and America, but now reliable data on other continents, including Asia. If trends continue, unassisted pregnancy won't happen. AS take: nature dealing with an invasive species.

JK Brown said...

The question arises, can you have modernity without the logical consequences of modernity? Economically, children are a cost. They are the leading cause of poverty. Children no longer add to the family enterprise as they did when within a few years they were farm labor. Given a choice people prefer to have fewer children and invest more into them, which is possible when children are more likely to grow into adults due to modern healthcare and sanitation.

I suppose it is ironic that the social welfare state, by removing the need for a layer of cousin if hard times befall you, has caused the decline in births which the social welfare state requires to keep the Ponzi scheme going.

"As Malthus argued, the only force strong enough to stand against the biological desire to mate and have children, was the even stronger social desire to live comfortably and avoid poverty."
https://fortnightlyreview.co.uk/2012/07/invention-8/

"People had to be able to ‘afford’ to marry and have children. When economic conditions [in England] changed dramatically and called for a huge burst of extra labour, in other words with the early labour-intensive phase of the industrial revolution, then the age at marriage dropped and a larger proportion of the population married. Population grew rapidly as jobs became available.

"Demography is a sensitive index to the presence of modernity. Where, as in most civilizations, the family is the basic unit of the economic, social, political and religious world, to expand the family is the ultimate goal – people want as many children as possible. But where a modern division between the spheres of economy, society, polity and religion has taken place, so that it is the individual alone who links the separated spheres, the individual’s interest are not served by large families."

gahrie said...

Andrew Sullivan on twitter links to new meta-analysis study on declining sperm count worldwide. Previously many studies on Europe and America, but now reliable data on other continents, including Asia.

I've got $1,000 cash that says it's due to birth control hormones from human urine in the environment.