SEOUL, March 28 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk Yeol said Tuesday the government should reassess its policies for tackling the country's low birth rate and determine why they have failed.
Yoon made the remark as South Korea's fertility rate, or the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime, fell to an all-time low of 0.78 last year, well below the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep the country's population stable at 51.5 million.
"We must objectively reassess our low-birth policies on the basis of scientific grounds and properly figure out the cause for their failures," he said while presiding over a meeting of the Presidential Committee on Ageing Society and Population Policy for the first time.
Yoon, who chairs the committee, noted the fertility rate sank to 0.78 last year even after the government spent an "astronomical budget" of 280 trillion won (US$215 billion) on related policies over the last 15 years.
He said the low birth rate is a problem arising from various factors, including social issues related to welfare, education and jobs, and women's economic participation.
The most important thing, he said, is to instill confidence in the people that the state will take responsibility for their children.
"Without creating a culture suitable for giving birth and raising children, it will be difficult to solve the problem of low birth with only certain policies," Yoon said, calling for a review of whether existing policies for child care leave and similar measures are being properly implemented.
"The government will have to provide thorough support for giving birth to and raising children while looking closely at how cultural factors and values have changed to result in our society having a low birth rate," he said.
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