South Korea’s Baby Bonuses Won’t Stop Population Decline

Incentive won’t satisfy the deep cultural shift on views of marriage.


John Stonestreet

Jared Hayden

South Korea is considering offering families “baby bonuses”—up to $70,000 per child—to help break its fertility bust. The country’s total fertility rate is just above 0.7, which is the lowest in the world. 

In fact, almost every country in the developed world currently has birth rates well below the replacement rate. Many of them have tried and failed at offering tax incentives designed to stop population decline. 

That’s because, as family policy scholar Patrick Brown put it, “nations can’t buy their way out of a cultural shift.” This is not, at root, a policy or economic problem. It’s a worldview problem, a cultural shift in views, not only about children and parenting, but more fundamentally, about marriage and sex. Marriage is now viewed as a capstone rather than a foundation for life, and sex is viewed as recreational rather than procreational. 

In the words of Patrick Brown, “Anyone concerned about low fertility needs to be concerned, first and foremost, about the decline of marriage.” 


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