- Seoul is rolling out a new cash voucher scheme to subsidise the costs of having a child.
- The city is giving R25,000 in cash vouchers to parents for each baby born in 2022.
- South Korea has a fertility rate of .84, the lowest in the world.
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The Seoul metropolitan government is distributing cash handouts to parents of newborns in a bid to boost the country's dismal birth rate.
Parents who registered the birth of a child from January 1, 2022, will be eligible to redeem 2 million South Korean won (R25,000) worth of cash vouchers, as per the Chosun Ilbo. The parents can redeem vouchers online and at local community centres but will have to use the vouchers by the end of 2022.
The incentive is among several childbirth subsidies that the South Korean government has rolled out in recent months. In November, the country's National Health Insurance Service announced that it would give cash vouchers of $837 to new mothers and R17,837 to new mothers who give birth to twins.
The South Korean authorities also lifted a previous restriction that prevented new parents from using vouchers to pay for medical expenses.
South Korea's fertility rate was 0.84 in 2020, according to statistics on South Korean births and deaths released by the South Korean government in 2021.
The latest birth rate statistics are a stark shift from the country's peak birth rate in 1960 of six. South Korea now has the lowest fertility rate globally, and South Korean millennials say staggering debt and a lack of affordable housing have held them back from starting families.
The country's birth rate is so low that hundreds of schools have been emptied out and abandoned, Insider reported in July 2021.