Seoul Expands Grant for Babies Says City Officials

by VR Sreeraman on  December 29, 2007 at 5:01 PM Child Health News
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Seoul Expands Grant for Babies Says City Officials
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.

"Full-time housewives who raise their children at home, not at day care facilities, have complained the old policy is not fair," Choung Yun-Hee, a city official in charge of population policy, told AFP.

"The new policy is also aimed at extending the period for the subsidy," she said.

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.

In mid-2006 it announced plans to spend a total of 18.9 trillion won (20.1 billion dollars) until 2010 to increase the number of nursery schools and provide more financial support for parents.

The pro-birth policy seems to be paying off.

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.

Source: AFP
LIN/M

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