Analysis on Policy Measures to Address Low Fertility Rates〔Overview〕
December 20, 2016
Social Program Evaluation Division
This summary offers a general overview of the ‘Report on the Evaluation of Policies To Address Low Fertility Rate,’ introducing its background, purpose, and scope of evaluation as well as a brief summary of each of its chapters (Policy Priorities, Policy Environment, Jobs, Family and Child-Rearing, and Education).
Declining birth rates, alongside the aging population, can lead to a demographic change that may pose a threat to society, requiring policy attention, such as public campaigns to increase the birth rate and proactive and preemptive investments in human resources. Well aware of the significance of this issue, the government has taken a series of actions: it has established five-ear Basic Plans to Address the Low Fertility Rate and the Aging Population since 2006, and it has executed total budgets of 80.2 trillion won over the last 10 years, more specifically 19.7 trillion won for the first five-year period and 60.5 trillion won for the following five-year period. Despite this, the nation still has one of the world's lowest birth rates, with its total fertility rate standing at less than 1.3 births per woman during the last 15 years.
Concerns are rising over this gloomy demographic trend, with some saying that as South Korean society has already fallen into the low fertility trap, its fertility rate will not bounce back unless a breakthrough is achieved. In light of the severity of this situation, the government declared the five-year period of the Third Basic Plan (2016-2020) as the golden time to step back from the demographic cliff and decided to inject 108.4 trillion won to address the issue.
The report analyzes the policy measures carried out in the Third Basic Plan using a triangular model of job, family, and education from the perspective of individuals and families who are the cental actors in child birth, and it suggests possible improvements in consideration of the validity, effectiveness, and appropriateness of each of the policy measures.
According to the analysis, policy measures to tackle the low birth rate should be developed not only from the demographic point of view but also from the perspective of sustainable national development, which encompasses efforts to address a variety of social changes. To make this happen, the policy measures carried out in the Third Basic Plan should be prioritized according to their importance, and effective policies and a strong government commitment are needed to eliminate the social trends and practices that are keeping the birth rate low. In addition, for the effective and timely implementation of the policy measures, public consensus should be built to secure a steady, adequate flow of funding, and necessary preconditions, such as cooperation from companies and gender equality across the board, should be met.