SEJONG, Dec. 15 (Korea Bizwire) — More South Korean men are taking paternity leave nowadays, but their number still pales in comparison to that of women, data showed Friday.
The data compiled by Statistics Korea showed that the number of male employees getting paternity leave came to 7,616 in 2016, up from 4,872 in 2015, 3,412 in 2014 and 1,402 in 2011.
In comparison, the number of female workers that took maternity leave to care for their children stood at 82,179 in 2016, slightly down from 82,467 in 2015 but up from 73,412 in 2014 and 56,735 in 2011.
The move illustrated the widespread perception in South Korea that women should take care of children.
South Korea has been encouraging paternity leave, including turning the unpaid leave into paid leave in 2001, as part of its efforts to boost South Korea’s low birthrate and ease the burden of child care.
Childbirths in South Korea dropped to a record low last year despite decade-long efforts to tackle the country’s chronically low birthrate.
The number of babies born in 2016 reached 406,300, down 7.3 percent, or 32,100, from a year earlier, according to the data.
The figure marked the lowest number of newborns since 1970, when the statistics agency started to compile such data.
The statistics office said the ratio of employees who work in the same companies after either paternity or maternity leave came to 75.5 percent in 2015, down from 76.4 percent in 2014. But the 2015 reading is higher than the 71.2 percent in 2012 and the 67.6 percent in 2010.
The ratio has been on the rise as South Korea has pushed to bring stay-at-home moms back to work in recent years.
The statistics office said 46.3 percent of more than 5.51 million married women quit their jobs in 2016 due mainly to marriages, pregnancy and childbirth.
South Korea’s female labor participation is among the lowest in the world as many women leave work to take care of kids.
The data showed that male employees worked an average 45.4 hours a week last year, down 36 minutes from a year earlier, with the corresponding figure for female workers being 39.7 hours, also down 42 minutes.
The average working hours a month totaled 176.9 hours last year, down 14.3 hours from a decade ago, with workers’ monthly overtime falling 4.4 hours to 12.7 hours, the data showed.