A South Korean company is ready to pay millions of dollars to help fix the country’s abysmally low birth rate.
Booyoung Group, a construction firm based in Seoul, plans to pay employees 100 million Korean won ($75,000) each time they have a baby, it said in a press release Monday. It will also pay a total of 7 billion Korean won ($5.25 million) in cash to employees who have had 70 babies since 2021, the company added.
The benefit is available to men and women, a company spokesperson told CNN.
At 0.78 in 2022, South Korea has the world’s lowest fertility rate — which indicates the average number of children a woman will have in her lifetime — and that ratio is expected to drop further to 0.65 in 2025, according to official forecasts from Statistics Korea.
The data underscores the demographic time bomb that South Korea and other East Asian nations are facing as their societies rapidly age just a few decades after their dramatic industrialization.
Many European nations also face aging populations, but the speed and impact of that change is mitigated by immigration. Countries like South Korea, Japan and China, however, have shied away from mass immigration to tackle the decline in their working age populations.
Booyoung Group’s Chairman Lee Joong-keun said the company is offering “direct financial support” to its employees to help ease the monetary burden of raising children.
Employees with three babies will be given an option to choose between receiving 300 million Korean won ($225,000) in cash or rental housing, if the government provides land for construction, he added at a company event on Monday.
“I hope we would get recognized as a company that contributes to encouraging births… and worries about the country’s future,” Lee told his employees.
Booyoung Group was founded in 1983 and has since built over 270,000 homes, according to the company’s website.
The South Korean government and other private companies already offer financial perks to encourage people to have more children, but none on the scale of Booyoung Group’s benefits. Similar programs also exist in China, which has seen its population decline for two straight years.
Last year, China’s Trip.com, one of the world’s largest online travel agencies, said workers who have been with the company for at least three years will receive an annual bonus of 10,000 yuan ($1,376) for each new-born child every year from the child’s first birthday until they reach the age of five.
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