One in three elementary schoolkids in Korea is an only child as the birthrate dwindles and the country settles into First-World family patterns.
According to Statistics Korea, the proportion of married women without children rose from 6.4 percent in 2005 to 6.6 percent in 2015, and the ratio of married women with one child soared from 15.6 percent to 18.5 percent.
As more and more women opt to tie the knot later in life, the gap between one generation to the next has risen from 20 to 25 years to 30 to 35 years.
Surviving great-grandparents and grandparents now outnumber grandchildren, and there has also been a marked rise in the number of twins as more older mothers resort to IVF, which is more likely to result in twins.
Huh Mi-kyung (55), a first grade teacher in Songpa in southern Seoul, said, “Thirty years ago, there was at most one student per class who was an only child, but now it’s almost one in three”.
Demographers said the key to boosting the birthrate is in the economic realities.
Lee Sam-sik at Hanyang University said, “We need to resolve the three main obstacles to having children — balancing work and family life, easing the burden of raising children and addressing the cost of having children, to get couples to have more than one child”.