For some time Korea's birthrate has ranked dead last among OECD member nations. It’s among the lowest in the world, a fact that is on clear display with dwindling classroom enrollments.
This is a class of new students at an elementary school in Seoul. The class size is about 18 on average. The number has more than halved compared to 40-plus class sizes 10 years ago. It's estimated to cost nearly 269,000 US dollars to raise a child in Korea, from birth to the end of university graduation. Skyrocketing child rearing expenses are taking more of a toll on the nation's already very low birthrate.
[Soundbite] Jeong Ji-yeong(Seoul Resident) : "To hire a sitter to look after my child for after kindergarten hours will be close to a full monthly wage."
The total fertility rate which is the number of babies delivered by an average Korean woman through her life stands at 1.25. It's the lowest among OECD member nations and 220th out of 224 world countries. The Korean government has injected about 89.6 billion dollars in the past decade to boost the birthrate but effects have been minimal.
[Soundbite] Prof. Choi Seul-gi(KDI School of Public Policy & Management) : "Various policy measures are in place but they need to be reorganized through selection and concentration."
If the falling birthrate is left unchecked, pundits warn Korea's population will be cut to half the current level by the year 2100.