Todays Chosun Ilbo online features a piece on the continuing drop in Korea’s birthrates, pinpointing Busan as the area with the lowest birthrate in the Country.

Park Kyong-ae, an assistant director of the NSO’s demographic division, attributed the lower birthrate in large cities to the fact that many married women work and women choose to remain single to pursue their career goals.

Personally, I don’t agree with this reason. I think the main reason is down to the economic strains put upon familes due to social pressure to conform on children’s education.

Children’s Education is a very expensive business in Korea and I think most young families would prefer not to have an extra child rather than not be able to give it the level of education that is expected nowadays. 

Here are some figures on average earnings in Korea per month from Asiaweek. The figures are from 2000 but this report suggests the figures may not have changed much since then.

Profession              Average monthly Salary (Won)

Architect                            1,837

Civil Engineer                     1,837

Accountant                         1,810

Systems Engineer               2,207

Hagwon prices average out at about 450,000Won per child per month.  

Many families only have one income per household.

Therefore, simply sending two children to a Hagwon can use up to 50% of a monthly salary in many professions.   

Its a strong incentive to keep family size to a minimum.