So. Korean Capital Expands Baby Subsidies: City Officials

AFP, Dec. 28, 2007

South Korea’s capital Seoul will expand payments to encourage couples to have more children and reverse the nation’s ageing society, the city government said Friday.

Starting next month, families raising a third child aged six or younger will either get 100,000 won (106 dollars) in cash every month or 50 percent of the fee for the child’s daytime care, the city said in a statement.

Payments were previously limited to families raising a third child aged three or younger and covered the entire fee for daytime care.

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After years of promoting family planning in the crowded nation of 49.4 million, the central government has become increasingly alarmed at the prospect of an ageing society—with a huge pensions bill and too few workers to sustain economic growth.

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The fertility rate, or the average number of babies that a woman gives birth to during her lifetime, advanced to 1.13 in 2006 from a record low of 1.08 a year earlier.

In the first nine months of this year the number of births reached 365,492, up 8.5 percent year-on-year, the health and welfare ministry said.

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