Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Seoul plans to offer financial support to residents seeking to reverse vasectomies or tubectomies in the latest step aimed at boosting birthrates as a dwindling population threatens the long-term vitality of the South Korean capital.

Seoul will offer each citizen up to 1 million won ($734) to help ease the financial burden of the medical prodecure for couples who want a child, according to a statement from the city on Tuesday. A total of 100 million won has been set aside for the program that marks the first of its kind in Seoul. It’s part of a broader 1.5 trillion won extra budget that authorities have submitted to the city parliament, it said.

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Read More: Why Experts Say South Korea Shouldn’t Just Throw Cash at Its Low Birth Rate Problem

While South Korea has the world’s lowest fertility rate at 0.72, the situation is especially dire in Seoul, where every group of 100 women is estimated to produce only 55 babies over their collective lifetimes, the lowest among all major cities. In a separate statement, the national statistical office said Tuesday Seoul is projected to see its population fall to 7.9 million by 2052 from 9.4 million in 2022.

City authorities are already offering financial support for egg freezing and infertility treatments to help stem the decline in births. Mayor Oh Se-hoon told Bloomberg TV earlier this year that Seoul would “mobilize all available policies” to boost the population, including launching a match-making program.

A variety of factors are blamed for the reluctance among South Koreans to have babies, including high costs of living and a lack of affordable housing. President Yoon Suk Yeol said earlier this month in a nationally televised address that his administration plans to launch a new ministry dedicated to dealing with the fertility crisis.

South Korea used to encourage vasectomies in the 1970s to 1980s due to fear the population increase could get out of hand.

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