‘Have a baby, get $75k’, Korean developer tells staff

South Korea’s population is set to halve by the end of the century (Presse750/Dreamstime)
The chairman of South Korean residential developer Booyoung Group is offering employees a bonus of $75,000 if they have children, The Chosun Daily reports.

84-year-old Lee Joong-keun began the scheme because the country’s fertility rate is the lowest in the world.

It currently stands at 0.72, meaning the number of children born to each woman is fewer than one. It would need to be 2.0 or greater for population numbers to stabilise or grow.

Booyoung Group will pay the bonus for each child born to an employee for childcare costs or upgrading to bigger homes.

The South Korean government said this week it would support this initiative by making the bonuses tax-exempt. 

Booyoung made the incentive retrospective, and has awarded more than $5.3bn to employees who collectively had 70 children since 2021.

The benefit is available to male and female members of its 2,500-strong workforce.

‘National existential crisis’

Lee said: “If the current state of low birth rates persists, we will face a national existential crisis such as workforce decline and a lack of defence manpower necessary for national security. The low birth-rate results from financial burdens and difficulties in balancing work and family life, so we decided to take such a drastic measure.”

South Korea’s birth rate fell 8% last year. If this continues, the population of 52 million will shrink to 26 million by 2100.

A recent report by the BBC, based on a series of conversations with Korean women, suggested that the competitive pressures in society were so high that people were unable to make time to have families.

One woman said: “Koreans have this mindset that if you don’t continuously work on self-improvement, you’re going to get left behind, and become a failure. This fear makes us work twice as hard.

‘IV drip on the weekend’

“Sometimes at the weekends I go and get an IV drip, just to get enough energy to go back to work on Monday.”

In addition to the childbirth incentive, Booyoung Group may also give assistance with college tuition and medical expenses for direct family members.

Other Korean companies have also offered incentives to staff who have children, although these are not as generous as Booyoung’s.

Kumho Petrochemical, construction management firm HanmiGlobal and pharmaceutical company Yuhan Corp have recently issued bonuses of between $3,800 and $7,600 per child.

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