11/25/2014, 00.00
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Korea’s birth rate up in wake of Papal visit

The government data for the last six months show an increase in the birth rate of 2.2%: still too little, but the phenomenon seems set to improve. The Catholic Church has always been at the forefront in the battle against the "de-humanizing" culture of an economy that pushes couples to avoid having children.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - For the sixth month in a row, births in South Korea have increased. This is confirmed by the data published today by the National Statistics Office , according to which in September newborns increased by 2.2%. The numbers show that since April the increase has been constant: compared to January-September last year, the total has increased by 0.1%.

Although the absolute numbers are still very low, it is an encouraging sign that rewards the government's pro-life policies encouraged by the Catholic Church and other national religions.

Until now, the country had one of the world's lowest birth rates. A disturbing government study published in August 2014, just after Pope Francis left the peninsula, had shown that with this rate of decline the Korean people "will be the first to face extinction".

Underlying this lack of children was a national culture based on economic growth at all cost and grueling pace of work. Aware of this danger, the Pope invited the Korean people to reject this state of affairs. Celebrating Mass in the stadium of the Assumption of Daejeon, August 15, 2014, the pope urged Catholics to go against "the inhumane economy, which creates a culture of death".

Better late than never, now the government has come on board in the religions pro-life battle. Facing the risk collapse of the entire system of social welfare - health and pensions - the government headed by Park Geun-hye has launched taxation measures to ease the burden on couples with children and protect women who are pregnant. Issues related to genetics and cloning are deeply felt in the nation, since it is here that the first experiments related to the reproduction of human cells took place.

In July 2012, the Korean Institute for Health and Social Affairs officialy acknowledged the problem and asked the government to intervene with policies to support the family. According to analysts, "too many people shy away from the idea of ​​marriage and having children. The government must create a new system that provides health care and insurance to those who decide to start a family. We also need a complete change of mentality, which is perhaps the most worrying factor".


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