onsdag 17. mai 2023

Asia is spending big to battle low birth rates - will it work?

Falling birth rates are a major concern for some of Asia's biggest economies. Governments in the region are spending hundreds of billions of dollars trying to reverse the trend. Will it work? Japan began introducing policies to encourage couples to have more children in the 1990s. South Korea started doing the same in the 2000s, while Singapore's first fertility policy dates back to 1987. China, which has seen its population fall for the first time on 60 years, recently joined the growing club.

While it is difficult to quantify exactly how much these policies have cost, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol recently said his country had spent more than $200bn (£160bn) over the past 16 years on trying to boost the population. Yet last year South Korea broke its own record for the world's lowest fertility rate, with the average number of babies expected per woman falling to 0.78.

In neighbouring Japan, which had record low births of fewer than 800,000 last year, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has pledged to double the budget for child-related policies from 10tn yen ($74.7bn; £59.2bn), which is just over 2% of the country's gross domestic product.