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The statistical expertise of JPR’s research team occasionally takes us to some unexpected places. And in one recent episode, it has brought us to somewhere we haven't ever been before: South Korea.
South Korea’s low birthrate has been of considerable concern to policy makers there for some time. Having stood at 2.57 in 1980, comfortably above replacement level (2.1), it declined to 1.08 in 2006, the lowest level seen anywhere in the developed world. Scholars postulate various reasons for the decline. Most notably, survey data suggest that many South Koreans feel that they are too busy to date, and are not sufficiently financially stable to get married or start a family.
Low fertility is an issue in many parts of the Western world, including among parts of the Jewish Diaspora. For example, recent research conducted by JPR found it to be 1.98 for ‘mainstream British Jews,’ even though among British Jews as a whole it is 2.6, as very high fertility rates among the most Orthodox drive the average rate upwards.
Our interest and expertise in this area led to some collaborative work between JPR Senior Research Fellow, Dr. Daniel Staetsky, and Dr. Kim Chong Woo of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies. This has been very beneficial to JPR, not least because South Korea punches way above its weight in terms of research and development, but also because it is an important regional partner for Israel and the West. However, at a more immediate level, the result is a new paper published by the Institute, entitled A Targeted Approach to Increasing Fertility: Which age groups hold the key to solving the low fertility problem?