Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Demographic extinction versus nationalism

Intro LO:

This recent Times article highlights a demographic topic in (very) many countries: declining birth rates that are announcing a declining population (eg, China-FT-2021).

South Korea claims it “faces extinction”. That claim makes sense given the numbers in the 3rd paragraph of the article below. The 5th paragraph explains why this demographic issue is (much) worse in Asia than in other countries.

Nationalism in Europe, UK and USA prevents a common solution: import people from countries with many people and few jobs. In many countries, that seemingly simple solution is complicated by (i) identity issues, like language, religion and skin colour, and (ii) social benefits and welfare issues (ie, money).

Government attempts to convince couples to raise more children have failed in every (known) country. Also see my related 2023 blog: Why can negative demographic trends not be reversed?

Why would any couple be interested in raising more children given all negative reasons (eg, climate, diversity, economy, freedom, housing, identity, inequality, jobs, liberalism, pollution, sexuality, war, woke).

Alarmism comes at a price.

I suppose that only pragmatism can stop ideology (eg, nationalism).

The Times title: South Korea ‘faces extinction’ after birth rate falls sharply again

By: Richard Lloyd Parry, Asia Editor
Date: 28 February 2024

“South Korea has registered another sharp fall in its birth rate, raising the prospect of its potential future extinction as a nation if present trends continue.

Official figures show that the country’s total fertility rate, meaning the average number of children a woman has in a lifetime, fell last year to 0.72, the lowest since records began 54 years ago. The figure is barely one-third of the so-called “replacement rate” of 2.1, which is needed to maintain a national population without immigration.

Just 230,000 babies were born in South Korea last year, in a population of 52 million, a drop of 19,000 or 7.7 per cent, from the previous record low a year earlier. In 2023, the number of deaths fell by 5.4 per cent to 352,721, the fourth consecutive year in which more people have died than have been born.

Demographers have warned that South Koreans will eventually die out if the birth rate does not increase. According to one study, even at a higher rate of 1.19 children per woman, the national population will fall from 52 million to 40 million by 2056 and to 10 million in 2136. The last South Korean, in this model, will die in 2750, in the world’s first self-inflicted genocide.

The reasons why younger women are choosing not to have as many children are complex. In South Korea they have much to do with the inflexible social status of mothers, who are expected to stay at home and find it difficult to keep or return to jobs and careers after giving birth.

Affluence, high standards of education, poor provision of childcare and sexist and patriarchal social norms create a population of young women who are motivated to pursue interesting careers rather than stay at home looking after children for husbands who rarely help out. High housing and education costs also make it expensive to raise children.

South Korea’s government has promised a concerted effort to encourage people to have children, in what the prime minister described last year as the “horrible catastrophe” of depopulation.

Successive governments have spent tens of billions of pounds over 17 years to increase the birth rate. This has included financial incentives for pregnant mothers, subsidies for healthcare and childcare, and a monthly allowance of 1 million won (£640) for every newborn.

South Korea may be the record holder but fertility rates are falling in wealthy countries across the world. On Tuesday, Japan, which had a birth rate of 1.26 in 2022, reported that the number of births had fallen by 5.1 per cent from the previous year.

On Wednesday, Singapore said that its birth rate had fallen to 0.97, the first time it has fallen below one.”



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