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South Korean Companies Offer $75,000 To Employees To Encourage Them To Have Kids

South Korean president
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol. Source: X

South Korean companies are stepping in to help the government deal with the country’s population crisis. According to the Korea Herald,  companies like Ssangbangwool announced Thursday it will provide up to 100 million won ($75,000) to employees who are expecting babies. The company will pay out 30 million won for the second child and 40 million won for the third child.

The companies are helping the government in what they say is their duty to help in South Korea’s population crisis. According to the FT,  South Korea’s birth rate was just 0.72. Writing in the paper, Professor Jaemin Lee said: “At the current pace, the South Korean population will be halved by 2100 to just 24 mn. In 2022, 249,000 babies were born. For the country’s labour market to function, South Korea needs 500,000 babies a year at a minimum. It is operating at half that figure.”

The government has already declared South Korea’s low birthrate as a “national emergency.” According to 2023 CIA report the country is one of many countries in East Asia where birthrates have been declining rapidly. The report also mentions Taiwan, China, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong which it claimed was in stark contrast to other regions such as Africa. Niger was reported to be the highest at 6.73, followed by Angola at 5.76.

South Korea’s fertility rate currently stands at the lowest in the world and so far little has seemed to make a difference. Cash incentives have been handed out before with little result. A New York Times report pointed out that one of the chief reasons was for women’s reluctance to leave the workplace. A 2022 survey quoted by the paper found that more women than men 65% to 48% don’t want children. The other reason is the falling marriage rate. According to a December 2023 Population Trends Survey by Statistics Korea the marriage rate has plummeted by 40% over the past decade.

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President Yoon Suk Yeol has cited “feminism” as one of the reasons for the problem. In a speech in 2021 when he was not yet president, he commented on the low birth state stating that feminism had been so “politically abused that there are even saying things like, ‘It plays a big role in emotionally blocking things like healthy interactions between men and women.’”