A budget proposal from lawmakers would combat the nation’s low fertility rate by tripling monthly “parent pay” to 1 million won — roughly $740 — for every newborn child, according to a report from Bloomberg. The stimulus will be reduced by half and run for an additional year once the child turns one.
“Important. South Korea is currently tracking to lose about half its population roughly every generation,” Musk observed on social media. “Long lifespan hides the dire nature of the problem.”
The billionaire entrepreneur has also drawn attention to “population collapse” in China and Japan, noting that the former had its lowest birth rate “ever last year” despite a rollback of the infamous one-child policy, while the latter could “cease to exist” unless “something changes.”
Indeed, many countries in the developed world are experiencing fertility rates far below replacement levels. The average number of births per woman in South Korea has fallen to 0.8 as of 2020, according to data compiled by the World Bank, while global fertility has gradually declined from 5 births per woman in 1960 to 2.4 births per woman in 2020.
Last year, the population of the United States likewise grew at its slowest pace since the nation’s founding, according to a report from the Census Bureau. Only 17.8% of America’s 130 million households feature married parents with children — a decline from more than 40% in 1970.
In the past several months, Musk has repeatedly criticized the notion that the world could struggle due to overpopulation. “I think one of the biggest risks to civilization is the low birthrate and the rapidly declining birthrate,” Musk said at a conference last year. “And yet, so many people, including smart people, think that there are too many people in the world and think that the population is growing out of control. It’s completely the opposite. Please look at the numbers — if people don’t have more children, civilization is going to crumble, mark my words.”
Other nations’ governments have introduced incentives meant to increase birth rates. Last month, Russia — which averages 1.6 births per woman — reinstated its “Mother Heroine” award to honor women who have more than ten children. The 1 million ruble incentive, amounting to roughly $16,600, constitutes 150% of the nation’s average annual salary. Families eligible for the distinction must raise children with an “appropriate level of care for health, education, physical, spiritual and moral development,” according to a statement from the Russian government.
Meanwhile, China has introduced new regulations seeking to decrease the cost of families for larger families. Officials outlawed the $120 billion private tutoring industry last year since Chinese parents spent a large portion of their incomes on tutoring services throughout their children’s primary and secondary education to prepare them for the nation’s rigorous college entrance exam. Days later, the Chinese government increased mortgage rates and accelerated the construction of subsidized rental housing to make real estate more affordable, seeking to discourage private investors from buying residential property for speculative purposes.