Newly married couples in rural areas are more likely to have children than those in cities, a study showed Sunday.
According to an award-winning paper released by Jeon Sae-ran and Lee Myeong-hoon of Korea University, those in rural areas were 1.37 times more likely to have plans for children than those living in cities, when comparing on equal income conditions.
The paper studied 2,207 couples who registered for marriage from 2010 to 2014 with their annual average income standing at 48 million won ($40,900) and spending an average of 280,000 won monthly in debt.
By marriage length, couples married for less than two years in rural areas were 1.39 times more likely to have a childbirth plan than those in cities, while those outside cities married for three to five years were 1.25 times more likely than their counterparts in urban regions.
The team explained that despite that many in their 20s and 30s, who are the primary birth-givers, live in cities, the rate difference occurs due to the high living cost and child-rearing expenses in urban regions.
The average home price stood at 400 million won in the capital area, higher even than the average of metropolitan cities like Busan (250 million won) and other regions (180 million won).
Child care expenses turned out to be more burdensome in more urban areas as well.
Households with a child in big cities spend a monthly average of 717,000 won, while those in small and middle-sized cities spend 615,000 won, data from Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs showed. Residents in the countryside spent an average of 521,000 won per month.
“Last year’s birthrate was 1.24, which means newlyweds gave birth to just one child (statistically speaking). We need to come up with more fitting policies for new married couples to increase the birthrate,” the research team said.
The study, which analyzed the statistics released by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, received an award from the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements.
By Jo He-rim (firstname.lastname@example.org)