South Korea fact of the day

by on August 28, 2013 at 2:59 pm in Data Source, Uncategorized | Permalink

 In 2011, the average age of a first marriage for South Korean women hit 29.14, up from 24.8 in 1990; for men it jumped to 31.8 from 27.9 in 1990. The birthrate sunk to 1.15 children per woman, the lowest among the world’s most developed countries.

The full story, about matchmaking in South Korea, is here.

1 ElamBend August 28, 2013 at 4:07 pm

All the Koreans having kids live in LA.

2 Ed August 28, 2013 at 4:08 pm

The antinatalists should rejoice: Less screaming victims.

3 Noumenon August 29, 2013 at 6:07 am

I do, but it’s bittersweet because I know that any individual or society that comes to its senses in this matter will be unable to pass its attitude on to future humans, who will all be of the natalist strain. So the screaming will continue.

4 Portfolio Careerist August 28, 2013 at 4:22 pm

I’ve heard people say how generous the medical benefits are in South Korea. Will that continue to be the case through an efficient health care system or will demographics force cuts?

5 Kevin W August 29, 2013 at 10:15 am

From what I have heard, albeit its generosity to its public, Korean Health Care system is suffering for its unpayable debt that is increasing in large proportion year by year. Combining with longer life expectancy and diminishing labor efficiency, the health care debt is not yet discussed openly in Korean public but is an imminent social bomb.

6 Alex' August 28, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Interesting read, but I wonder how much of the low fertility rate is due to young Koreans being unable to meet romantic prospects at bar, and how much is that couple put off childbearing for career and lifestyle reasons.

I suspect the latter has a much bigger effect.

7 A Berman August 28, 2013 at 7:04 pm

“In our time all Greece was visited by a dearth of children and generally a decay of population, owing to which the cities were denuded of inhabitants, and a failure of productiveness resulted, though there were no long-continued wars or serious pestilences among us. If, then, any one had advised our sending to ask the gods in regard to this, what we were to do or say in order to become more numerous and better fill our cities,–would he not have seemed a futile person, when the cause was manifest and the cure in our own hands? For this evil grew upon us rapidly, and without attracting attention, by our men becoming perverted to a passion for show and money and the pleasures of an idle life, and accordingly either not marrying at all, or, if they did marry, refusing to rear the children that were born, or at most one or two out of a great number, for the sake of leaving them well off or bringing them up in extravagant luxury. For when there are only one or two sons, it is evident that, if war or pestilence carries off one, the houses must be left heirless: and, like swarms of bees, little by little the cities become sparsely inhabited and weak. On this subject there is no need to ask the gods how we are to be relieved from such a curse: for anyone in the world will tell you that is by the men themselves if possible changing their object of ambition; or, if that cannot be done, by passing laws for the preservation of infants.” – Polybius (220 BC-146 BC)

“Athens is populated by statues.” – Strabo (63 BC – 21 AD)

(Hat tip to ‘How Civilizations Die,” by David Goldman)

8 A Berman August 28, 2013 at 7:05 pm

“In our time all Greece was visited by a dearth of children and generally a decay of population, owing to which the cities were denuded of inhabitants, and a failure of productiveness resulted, though there were no long-continued wars or serious pestilences among us. If, then, any one had advised our sending to ask the gods in regard to this, what we were to do or say in order to become more numerous and better fill our cities,–would he not have seemed a futile person, when the cause was manifest and the cure in our own hands? For this evil grew upon us rapidly, and without attracting attention, by our men becoming perverted to a passion for show and money and the pleasures of an idle life, and accordingly either not marrying at all, or, if they did marry, refusing to rear the children that were born, or at most one or two out of a great number, for the sake of leaving them well off or bringing them up in extravagant luxury. For when there are only one or two sons, it is evident that, if war or pestilence carries off one, the houses must be left heirless: and, like swarms of bees, little by little the cities become sparsely inhabited and weak. On this subject there is no need to ask the gods how we are to be relieved from such a curse: for anyone in the world will tell you that is by the men themselves if possible changing their object of ambition; or, if that cannot be done, by passing laws for the preservation of infants.” – Polybius (220 BC-146 BC)

“Athens is populated by statues.” – Strabo (63 BC – 21 AD)

9 Roy August 29, 2013 at 3:19 am

This sort of lament goes back more than 500 years earlier, yet the Greek cities continued pretty well until the development of strong and large Hellenized states made almost all of them irrelevant. This is a complaint about the destruction of a particular class, not the society as a hole. One might as well complain about the failure of Boston Brahmins to perpetuate themselves and maintain control of their city.

Greek city states had a blood concept of citizenship which really didn’t allow the naturalization of foreigners, except after major defeats and massive epidemics, metics (the foreigners, and childrn of foreigners, resident in a city and fighting in the army according to their property level) were almost never naturalized. This process became even more ossiffied after the destruction of independence by first Alexander and his successors and then Rome. Coupled with the wider frontiers, such as Alexandria, Pergamon, even Rome, that were offered outside of the inner core of Greece in the Hellenistic world and you end up with very little incentive for anyone of talent to stay unless they held significant property.

10 A Berman August 29, 2013 at 6:34 am

I’m not sure how what you said actually contradicts the point– demographic decline ends in demographic death, whether it’s a class or a population.

11 Steve Sailer August 28, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Israel seems to be pretty effective at getting the quantity and quality of fertility it wants:

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2013/08/nyt-israel-wants-fertility-quality-not.html

12 TR W August 29, 2013 at 1:28 am

South Korea is 38,575 square miles while Portugal is 35,320 square miles in land area. South Korea has a population of 50 million while Portugal has 10 million. We have heard for decades now that East Asian countries have super low birth rates yet their populations continue to rise. After breeding like crazy South Koreans all of a sudden took a right turn and forsaken procreation. Really? Now supposedly South Korea is in a population crisis because supposedly everyone’s old and no one is having children. I think it’s a monkey see, monkey do situation where East Asians look at Western nations and what they are doing and immitating it regardless of what actually is happening in their own country. In the 1950s and 1960s Western nations implemented programs to slow population growth which worked and has had a long-term impact. Supposedly, East Asian nations did similar things. Now, talk in Western nations is that populations are not growing enough and are aging. In turn, East Asian nations look for ways to grow their population.

13 PP August 29, 2013 at 2:33 am

The 50s and 60s were when the Baby Boomers were born. Programs to slow population growth weren’t implemented then.

Western nations have been letting in lots of immigrants for decades, while East Asian nations haven’t had significant immigration.

14 Kevin W August 29, 2013 at 5:27 am

Interesting point, PP.
Yes, the major 3 in the far east asia, South Korea, China, Japan, have been living in racially homogeneous society. Even among these 3, the cultures and the languages are so different that each country would consider others as “neighboring but not close enough.”
Due to low influx of immigration pool, the population increase rate has been decreasing.

In 2011, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development(OECD) reported that South Korea recorded the lowest birth rate, 1.24 per parents, among the members of the organization.

Well, we can find the reason for the low birthrate problem in the NYT article, but I do not think that is the right answer.

The basis of this problem conflicts with the old Confucianism that is still prevalent in the Korean society. When Koreans marry with the both parents’ approval, the husband’s family buys or at least rents an apartment. The wife’s side will buy the furnitures for their new honeymoon suite. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family of Korea reported that it would cost approximately $50,000 for the husband and $30,000 for the wife to have an average Korean marriage.

Obviously, that much of money with out any loan only can come from their parents pocket.

And this unreasonable part with the introduction of modern Western “Individualism”, made many people to think of this kind of costly marriage to be unnecessary. With that amount of money, they would rather choose a sole, leisurely life over hungry, divorce-risky life.

15 TR W August 30, 2013 at 1:46 am

The first family planning programs funded by the federal government under the Economic Opportunity Act occured in 1964. In 1965, Griswold vs. Connecticut struck down state laws prohibiting contraceptive use by married couples. The Title X Family Planning program was enacted in 1970. Today, more than 1 out of 3 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old

http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Projects/BPEA/Spring%202013/2013a_bailey.pdf

16 PP August 30, 2013 at 1:30 pm

According to the paper, federal support for family planning really expanded in 1967 and into the 1970s:

The first big expansion came with the 1967 Amendment to the EOA, which designated family planning as a “national emphasis” program along with better-known programs such as Head Start….

From fiscal year 1967 to 1970, federal funds allocated to family planning increased to roughly 600 million (2010 dollars)—over 13 times their level in 1967. In 1969, President Richard Nixon initiated the second large expansion of federal support with his endorsement of a national family planning program….

In November 1970, the effort to fund these programs culminated in the passage of Title X of the Public Health Service Act (also known as the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act, P.L. 91-572). This legislation not only guaranteed the survival of federal support of family planning during the phasing out of the OEO, but also increased that support by fifty percent in real terms by 1974.

It looks like family planning really got underway in the late 60s and 70s, rather than the 50s and 60s. Which makes sense since the Baby Boom happened in the 50s and 60s.

17 A Berman August 29, 2013 at 6:37 am

There’s nothing “supposedly” about everyone being old and no one having children. And the population continues to increase for a while because of increased life expectancies and previous booms. But when the baby boomers die off, the populations start to decline. Contrary to your statement that ‘their populations continue to rise,’ Japan is already in the midst of population decline:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/9999591/Japans-population-suffers-biggest-fall-in-history.html

18 JWatts August 29, 2013 at 11:30 am

There’s also a secondary factor that affects the overall National economy. At the start of a decline, the number of young and (non-productive) decrease, thus boosting average per capita income, while the number of workers is relatively constant. But over time as that smaller generation enters the work force, while larger numbers of elderly retire (and become non-productive), the upward pressure of fewer children is offset by fewer numbers of young workers.

So I would expect that a lot of the “cost” of a shrinking birth rate to be masked for a generation. That being said, it’s possible the missing labor, will be completely offset by increased automation.

19 R Chmielowiec August 29, 2013 at 1:21 pm

A Berman,

TR W doesn’t appear to be interested in the facts here. He seems to have an axe to grind against the Japanese and other East Asians. All of his comments at Marginal Revolution are about criticizing and insulting them:

http://www.google.com/search?output=search&sclient=psy-ab&q=site:marginalrevolution.com+%22tr+w%22&btnG=&gbv=1&sei=voEfUuOKMunE2gX-s4HADg

20 TR W August 30, 2013 at 2:10 am

And last year it was reported that Japan’s population grew “unexpectedly.” 260,000 isn’t much for a reported population of 128 million. It’s a wonder how East Asian countries that have reported super low birth rates for decades and have super low immigration rates can have continuously rising populations. Germany is already experiencing population decline and if East Asian statistics are real then Germany did it with birth rates that are higher, immigration higher, similar life expectancy and peace. Life expectancy in Germany is 81 years old while in South Korea it’s 81, Japan is 83, and China is 76. I don’t believe East Asian birth rates are as low as they are reported.

21 Axa August 29, 2013 at 6:23 am

The typical requirement of getting married before children. If they where a little bit more flexible, like the “West”, there should be no problem. http://ionsg.blogspot.ch/2013/04/out-of-wedlock-births-and-big-government.html

22 Kevin W August 29, 2013 at 7:43 am

Axa, this is exactly why traditional Asian communities are skeptical about out-of-wedlock births.

They believe marriage must be preceded before the birth of a child.
Sometimes when there’s “accidental” birth, to avoid the social embarrassment, the couple usually gets married if the circumstance is right.

the virtue of being “flexible,” bending all the requirements of getting married, is not the solution, I believe, but it is more about their burden of educating the child(the cost of education is unreasonably high in Asian culture), the cost of living together not being worth an opportunity cost of living alone.

There should be a government plan to support these difficulties.

23 Yancey Ward August 29, 2013 at 11:38 am

Then, maybe, they can start doing it Gangster Style rather than Gangnam.

24 Axa August 29, 2013 at 8:32 am

I’m not saying the West liberalism is the solution or best option, it just sustains the 2+ children per woman fertility rate. An alternate explanation for the 1.15 child per women could be that but when young people in Asia is pressured to marry before children, the unintended result could be abortions instead of the desired result: marriages.

http://www.smu.edu.sg/sites/default/files/smu/news_room/smu_in_the_news/2013/sources/apr25/st_20130425_1.pdf

25 Kevin W August 29, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Fertility rate in western cultures is not 2+ either.
http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php?title=File:Total_fertility_rate,_1960-2011_(live_births_per_woman).png&filetimestamp=20130129121040

This low birth rate is universal amongst the league of developed nations.

The article itself is an interesting read, but I believe it does not illustrate the problem of low birthrate.

26 Matthew August 29, 2013 at 8:40 am

Argh. It should read “the birth rate sank”, not “sunk”. What is it with writers and editors?!

Interesting article.

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