SEOUL, July 10 (Korea Bizwire) – According to data released by the OECD and the Bank of Korea, South Korea has the lowest out-of-wedlock birth rate among OECD member countries.
The findings, which should not come as a surprise to those who know South Korea well, are in line with the country’s anemic birth rate in recent years, with other countries facing similar problems also reporting a lower likelihood of unmarried women having children. On the other hand, social acceptance of unmarried couples or single women bearing children was far more pronounced in countries with high birth rates like France and Norway.
The figures show the proportion of out-of-wedlock births was only 1.9 percent in South Korea, falling behind Japan’s rate of 2.3 percent.
Turkey, Israel and Greece followed, all with an out-of-wedlock birth rate standing below 10 percent.
In the meantime, the average birth rate among unmarried couples from EU countries stood at 40.5 percent, with France, Norway, Denmark and Sweden showing a much higher rate than their Asian counterparts, boasting 56.7, 55.2, 52.5 and 54.6 percent in the order named
As of 2014, the number of babies born between an unmarried couple in South Korea was below 40 percent of the OECD average, which many believe is due to the conservative outlook on marriage widely shared in the country, where anything other than the traditional form of family recognized by the law is frowned upon.
According to researcher Park Gyung-hoon at the Economic Research Institute at the Bank of Korea, in countries with low out-of-wedlock birth rates such as South Korea, Japan and Switzerland, the age at which women give birth to their first child is typically older than the average age at first marriage.
On the other hand, the average age at which women give birth to a baby for the first time preceded the average age at first marriage in countries with higher out-of-wedlock birth rates including Sweden, France and Austria.
The average age at which South Korean women give birth to their first baby was found to be the oldest among OECD member countries, at 31, closely followed by Italy and Japan, which came in at 30.7 and 30.6, respectively.
“If you look at the countries where birth rates have rebounded, different family types such as out-of-wedlock births are embraced, gender equality at workplace is upheld, and the cost of living is not too high for people to keep a healthy balance between work and life,” Park said.
Hyunsu Yim (firstname.lastname@example.org)