Seoul City Launches 1.8 Trillion-Won Initiative to Boost Birth Rates

SEOUL, South Korea - In response to the country's declining birth rates, the Seoul city government has unveiled a comprehensive 1.8 trillion won (US$1.35 billion) "birth encouragement" project for 2023. This initiative aims to provide financial support to residents to help them start and raise families, addressing the alarming drop in the nation's fertility rates. The total fertility rate in South Korea plummeted to a record low of 0.78 in 2022, with Seoul experiencing the lowest rate nationwide at 0.59.

According to Yonhap News Agency, The new project includes a range of supportive measures, such as expanding the availability of public spaces for wedding halls and increasing subsidies for infertility treatments and egg freezing. Monthly childcare subsidies will be elevated to 1 million won for parents of babies under one year old and to 500,000 won for one-year-olds, up from the current 700,000 won and 350,000 won, respectively. Starting in May, the city plans to offer incentives to small businesses that adopt child-rearing friendly labor policies.

Officials also announced the introduction of special early-morning childcare centers in April, aimed at assisting working parents. Additionally, the number of public 24-hour childcare centers and weekend nurseries will be increased to 17 and 21, respectively. The city aims to expand home care services to benefit 10,000 households, up from 6,000, including pregnant women, working parents, and large families. A pilot project to provide immigrant domestic helpers to 100 qualifying families is set to begin in the first half of this year, offering support to single parents, working parents, and expecting mothers for six months.

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