Family Demography in Asia
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Family Demography in Asia

A Comparative Analysis of Fertility Preferences

Edited by Stuart Gietel-Basten, John Casterline and Minja K. Choe

The demographic future of Asia is a global issue. As the biggest driver of population growth, an understanding of patterns and trends in fertility throughout Asia is critical to understand our shared demographic future. This is the first book to comprehensively and systematically analyse fertility across the continent through the perspective of individuals themselves rather than as a consequence of top-down government policies.
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Chapter 20: How is the decline of fertility related to fertility preference in South Korea?

Minja Kim Choe and Ki Tae Park


Since 1960 South Korea has experienced a dramatic decline in fertility resulting from rapid economic development and an efficient national family planning programs. The period total fertility rate (TFR) declined from six children per woman in 1960 to 1.7 in 1985, and has been below 1.3 since 2001. But fertility preference measured by mean ideal number of children declined modestly from five in 1960 to two in 1985 and has been slightly over two children since then. The combination of traditional patriarchal family system and rapidly declining fertility resulted in abnormally high sex ratio at birth for about 20 years since the mid-1980s, peaking at 117 in 1990. South Korean women report combining the traditional mother role and modern worker role to be very difficult, resulting in their stopping childbearing before achieving their preference. Since 2000, the proportion of women not marrying has increased substantially, but, once married, most women become mothers and stop childbearing after one or two children.

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