‘Populous country’ Southeast Asia also “doesn’t have children”… Why is the total fertility rate in the 1% range?

#. Le Minh Hue (31), an office worker living in Ho Chi Minh City, southern Vietnam, has been leaving her seven-year-old daughter in the care of her mother for six years. Because her hometown, Thanh Hoa, is 1,500km away from Ho Chi Minh City, she only sees her daughter once every three or four months, but it was a choice she had no choice.

Both her husband and Hue work overtime at work and travel frequently, making it difficult to take care of her child. I once brought her mother to Ho Chi Minh City to stay with her, but it was not easy for her to live with three adults and one child in a house measuring about 10 pyeong. But she can’t quit her job either. This is because when she returned to work after six months of maternity leave in 2016 and left the company because she could not withstand the blatant pressure to resign, she still remembers how financially difficult it was for her. In order to raise her only daughter well and enviously, she finds herself in a paradoxical situation where she has to focus on earning money away from her beloved daughter.

She later told the Hankook Ilbo on the 23rd, “I once thought about giving her a younger sibling, but I gave up,” adding, “Unless I leave work on time or have someone nearby to take care of the child, I can’t even dream of having a second child. ” “ I can’t afford it, ” he complained. He added, “Our generation usually has three or four or more siblings, but there is a strong atmosphere of having just one child and doing everything for them.”

Major member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN ) are facing a ‘baby bust’ (a sharp drop in birth rates ) . Based on the high birth rate in the late 20th century, each of the 10 countries grew into a population-rich country with a combined population of 650 million. However, as the number of regions where babies cry is decreasing, each country’s concerns are deepening.

Singapore has been suffering from low birth rates for a long time. In 1975, the total fertility rate (the average number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime) fell to 2.1, the minimum number of births (replacement fertility rate) to maintain the current population, and has been on a downward slope ever since.

Last year, it hit an all-time low of 1.05. This means that unless the number of children being born doubles from the current level, it will be impossible to maintain the population . As the number of school-age children decreases, merging elementary and middle schools has become a major task for Singapore’s Ministry of Education.

Thailand is also facing a population cliff. Thailand’s total fertility rate in 2022 is 1.30. The United Nations expects the number to fall to less than one this year. The low birth rate is accelerating to the extent that Bloomberg News described it as “the world’s first rapid decline in birth rate in a developing country.” Last year, for the first time, we even experienced a ‘population deathcross’ (a phenomenon in which the population naturally decreases as the number of deaths exceeds the number of births). The Thai government is even considering making solving low birth rates a national task.

Even Vietnam, with a population of 100 million people, cannot avoid the storm. Last year’s total fertility rate was 2.1, which was better than that of neighboring countries, but the largest city, Ho Chi Minh City (1.39), fell to Thailand’s level. Like Hue, many young people are giving up on having children. Although it is not comparable to Korea, the world’s most severely low birth rate country (total fertility rate of 0.78), it means that the problem of not having children is no longer the exclusive domain of developed countries .

The cause is simple. This is because the world is becoming increasingly difficult to give birth to and raise children. As industrialization and urbanization have occurred rapidly in Southeast Asia since the 2000s, housing prices, living costs, and education costs have soared, especially in cities where people flock.

According to the Bangkok Post, the average amount spent on education for children in Thailand this year is 19,500 baht (approximately 760,000 won), which requires spending one month’s salary (750,000 won) based on the legal minimum wage. There is also an analysis that people in their 20s to 40s, unable to bear the high costs, have given up on marriage and childbirth. In a survey conducted on 1,310 adults by Thailand’s National굿모닝토토 주소 Development Administration Research Institute on the 1st of this month, one-fourth of the respondents chose not to give birth due to the burden of childcare costs.

Women’s advancement into society has become more active, but the lack of infrastructure to support this is also contributing to low birth rates. Nguyen Hong Nung (31), who works at an information technology ( IT ) company in Hanoi, Vietnam, said, “Ever since I was 25, my parents have been urging me to ‘get married and have children,’ but I have no intention of doing so.” He added, “I am used to earning and enjoying life alone. “After seeing my friends being excluded from work or experiencing financial problems after having children, the idea of ​​starting a family disappeared for a long time,” he said.

This reality in Vietnam is very similar to Korea. This is because working conditions make it difficult to balance work and family, and the unstable work environment acts as a factor that hinders marriage and childbirth. “It is not easy for a woman who has not yet completed her career to continue her career once she has a child,” said Tan Porin, a senior researcher at the Policy Institute of the Lee Kuan Yew Graduate School of Public Policy in Singapore. “He explained.

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