Analysis of Policy Measures to Address Low Fertility Rates Ⅳ [Jobs]
December 30, 2016
The government has announced that the Third Basic Plan to Address the Low Birth Rate and the Aging Population signals a change of policy focus from easing parents' child-rearing burden to addressing the trends of delayed marriage and non-marriage, accordingly allocating 1.4 trillion won (6.7% of the total budget designated to the issue of low fertility rates as of 2016) to policies which boost the employment of young people. The policies, however, are simply a makeover of the existing and newly introduced youth employment programs, raising the need for analysis.
According to our analysis and evaluation of these policies, it is found that the youth employment rate, which the government described as a key performance indicator that demonstrates how effectively the polices are achieving their objectives, is not as relevant to the marriage rate (the number of marriages) as the government believes it is and even has been negatively correlated with the marriage rate in the last three to four years, indicating that the youth employment rate lacks causality and representativeness as a key performance indicator. This is mainly due to the fact that the negative effect of an increasingly neutral or negative perception of marriage in recent years outpaces the positive effect of the recent increase in youth employment.
As a result, the National Assembly Budget Office studied what affects never -married individuals' willingness to marry using the 2015 National Surveys on Fertility, Family Health and Welfare in Korea as microdata. According to the study, whether they are employed or not does not have a significant impact on their willingness to marry. For never-married men, those with irregular employment positions are 42% less willing to marry than those with regular jobs. Furthermore, according to the AHP conducted on experts, greater opportunities for full-time transition and a reduced income gap, though not included in the Third Basic Plan, is found to rank highest on the priority list among the policy areas selected to create an environment that supports marriages and ranks fifth-highest among the 25 total detailed tasks. This clearly demonstrates a need to change the focus of the existing policy measures taken to boost fertility rates toward improving employment stability.
For never-married women, employment and employment security do not have any clear cause-and-effect relationship with marriage, implying that the focus of policy efforts for this gender group should be on work-family balance. Since the existing government policies for work-family balance focus on expanding parental leave, which still has plenty of grey areas, the willingness of never-married women to marry is sharply diminishing in spite of recent improvements in quantitative indicators, such as the employment rate of women, the number of women who are on parental leave, and the number of women with career interruptions. In this context, it is necessary to set up a policy program to address the practice of long working hours, assess its performance based on the average annual hours actually worked per worker, and significantly increase the budget for promoting flexible work schedules, which are more preferred by businesses among the possible options.