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韩国能生更多婴儿吗?

首尔—韩国正面临严重的人口挑战。总体生育率(每位妇女生孩子的数量)仅2.14,位居世界最低行列,也远远低于不需要移民就可以维持人口规模的水平2.1。结果,韩国人口迅速老化,而政府尽管使出了浑身解数,却束手无策。

低生育率是工业化国家所面临的共同现象。韩国经济繁荣之前——从前韩国人认为孩子越多越安全——生育率要高得多,1960年前平均达6以上。但是,随着韩国经济的发展,育儿成本的提高,女性劳动力参与率的上升,生育率显著下降,20世纪80年代降低到2以下。

一开始,生育率下降对经济有利,因为家庭能存更多的钱并投资于孩子的发展。2015年,女性大学就读率达到了81%,而1980年只有6%。但劳动力主力大军的减少最近开始制约经济增长,并有可能让公共退休金系统不堪重负。

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