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Curbing population growth in Republic of Korea

, : Curbing population growth in Republic of Korea. Yojana 27(1-2): 54, 56-54, 56

The population of Korea is expected to increase by another 1/4 of the current population by the year 2000 if the government family planning program is successful. Aggravating Korea's demographic situation is the worldwide phenomenon of urban congestion. According to official statistics, Seoul's population increased from only 1 million in 1953 to 8.5 million in 1980, the latest year for which figures are available. While Seoul's population alone accounts for 22.3% of the total population, that of the greater Seoul area comprises 13,542,000 people or 35.5% of Korea's population. Most of the country's best institutions of higher learning are concentrated in Seoul, and in 1979 Seoul accounted for nearly half (47.7%) of the nation's college and graduate students. Seoul is also the center of the country's political, economic and cultural life and provides better employment opportunities than elsewhere in the country. The exodus of young people from rural areas and the growing census figures have triggered fears that the subsequently reduced agricultural productivity would result in a food supply crisis. In an attempt to remedy the demographic disparity between urban and rural areas, the government initiated a 10-year program in 1982 to promote jobs and improve medicare and the educational system in provincial cities. The plan encourages the establishment of factories and other auxiliary facilities outside the Seoul area that are necessary to support the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The program's success remains in question as it requires consistent, determined, and well coordinated efforts on the part of policy makers to curb the historical trend which has been gaining momentum over the past 100 years. 2 approaches have been adopted in the government's efforts to integrate population dynamics into the development process, overseas migration, and planned parenthood. Despite the 1981 liberalization of overseas travel for Koreans, Korean migration overseas is not expected to grow significantly. The planned parenthood program, the major thrust of the government's population policy, has proven to be effective. The average fertility rate of Korean women has declined from 6 in 1960 to 2.7 in 1982. The net population increase had dropped from 2.84% in 1960 to 1.67% in 1980. Over the 1962-81 period, the government spent US$145.5 million on planned parenthood programs. The preference for sons continues despite the government slogan, "stop at two, regardless of sex." Only 41% of women with only 2 daughters practice birth control, compared with 71% of those with only 2 sons. There is also a fertility gap between urban women (2.4) and rural women (3.3).


PMID: 12312002

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