Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Family Allowance to Increase Birth Rates

The Ministry of Health and Welfare is planning to take steps to increase the birth rate. The big idea is Family Allowance. I had to shake my head in disappointment when I read this. Why? Because at best this policy doesn't work very well and its insulting to boot.

The argument behind FA is to give families who are not having a child due to money considerations the incentive to change their mind. However, most developed countries have already worked out that such policies are limited in their effectiveness mostly because economics does not totally dictate such decisions. Despite generous welfare payments birth rates have continued to decline. And the reasons behind this vary due to inidividual concerns of having children but I'd like to broadly touch on two groups: those who would have kids if it was more affordable; and those who just don't want kids.

For those who do want kids but find it expensive the FA is limited in effectiveness for three reasons. Firstly, FA is and never will be enough to cover the mind-boggling cost of raising a child in modern society. Secondly, most FA is a welfare payment which means that many who may be eligible don't want it as it carries the stigma of being a welfare payment. For those who want kids and want to be able to stay home and look after them, the FA is insufficient but may allow for part-time work over full-time work.

For those who don't want kids these kinds of 'incentives' are obviously a waste of time. And it is a fact of moder society that more woment are choosing not to have kids, for reasons beyond economic considerations. Not wanting kids for some unknown reason still meets with ridiculous comments though it is an increasingly common phenomena.

This little snippet I found on Child policy shows that Korea offers only 8 weeks UNPAID maternity leave!!! Stingy bastards! (Next worse was US with 12 weeks unpaid maternity leave.) And they wonder that birth rates are declining. Such "pop one out and get back to work!" policies are never going to be very effective.

The Korea Times article also notes that the policy is for family stability. But actually, couples with child have higher divorce rates than those without kids.

Universiade -Daegu: All Politics, No Sports
The North Koreans are threatening to leave Universiade. I think most people wish they hadn't come in the first place and won't they please just go home. They are also calling for the Universiade committee people to apologise, which absolutely they shoud NOT do. It becomes obvious why so many countries are concerned about war on the peninsula if this is indicative of how the two Koreas are able to handle problems themselves. Either war would quickly erup or South Korea would beg their Northern brethren to come over and then apologise for ever having the nerve to build up a thriving democracy.

But on the sporting front, I have been further considering Cathartidae's comments on bias judgin earlier in the week. So I just did a brief check on the Medal History section of the Universiade page and found that Korea's best take has been 10 gold medals (18th Games held in Fukoka, Japan) but usually they seem to get between 0-5. This year, so far, they have 15. I haven't read any comments of bias judging, but then again, I don't think the Uni Games ever get much newspaper coverage. Maybe its hometown advantage or maybe bias judging...I don't know.

Currently reading:

"Hell" by Yasutaka Tsutsui