Seeking to reverse a falling birth rate, the government plans to lower the school entry age and increase education subsidies to help reduce the costs of bringing up children.
A nationwide campaign against abortion will be conducted and immigration rules will be eased to bring in more foreigners, the Presidential Council for Future and Vision said yesterday.
The panel reported to President Lee Myung-bak a set of measures to resolve the shrinking population.
Korea recorded a birth rate of 1.12, the lowest level in the world, this year. Economic difficulties could drive down the rate to less than 1, the panel warned.
It said the government will push for advancing the school entry age from the current six- years to five-years of age. Korea offers a free elementary school education. The move would help reduce costs for private education and allow more mothers to work, the panel said.
The measures also include increased support for families with multiple children.
It proposed that a family`s third-born child be given advantages in university entrance and employment as well as financial support for high school and university fees. Retirement age for parents with multiple children should be extended, it said.
Families with three or more children will be given special interest rates on their mortgages.
It proposed that fathers should be encouraged to use child care leave. A variety of incentives should be given to companies which hire mothers.
The panel also called for policies to increase the number of foreigners settling in the nation through easing immigration rules and allowing dual citizenship.
It proposed an extensive anti-abortion campaign and measures to mitigate discrimination against single-mother families.
The government will provide support of 1.5 million won ($1,300), up to three times, for each couple undergoing artificial insemination procedures, it said.
Those measures will be discussed further by the panel, government ministries and a special committee under the Prime Minister`s Office. They will be finalized early next year, it said.
By Hwang Jang-jin