Study: Fewer Working Hours Propel Korean Fertility Intentions

1 min read
August 5, 2023
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A fresh study from South Korea digs into the correlation between pregnancy intentions (i.e. fertility intentions) and critical characteristics of childbearing-age women, spanning age, income, employment, occupation, weekly work hours, education level, and location.

Why it Matters: This research carries significant weight, unravelling the intricate links between fertility intentions and the diverse traits of women in Korea’s childbearing age. Separating these connections becomes pivotal in tackling the nation’s low fertility rates, driving work-life balance, empowering women in the workforce, and shaping family planning choices.

What They Found: Revelations abound as the findings underscore striking disparities among childbearing-age women, stemming from factors like age, education, occupation, and weekly work hours. The study pinpoints that higher education levels are associated with heightened fertility intentions, while white-collar workers show a diminished proportion of such choices. An unexpected twist reveals that clocking in between 34.4 to 40 hours per week creates the sweet spot with the highest odds of pregnancy.

What They Are Saying: The implications reverberate across Korea, seizing the attention of policymakers, employers, and individuals alike. Addressing work-related burdens and fostering improved work-life balance for women stands paramount. Grasping the obstacles confronted by well-educated women in white-collar roles becomes pivotal in supporting their career trajectories while strategizing for desired family sizes. The study further sheds light on telecommuting’s potential to mitigate work-related burdens on pregnancies. All in all, informed family planning choices promise a path to a more robust society with enhanced outcomes for all.

What’s The Problem: Yet, policymakers appear inclined toward other endeavors, exemplified by the contentious proposal to hike maximum work hours from 52 to a gruelling 69 hours per week. A response to fervent business lobbying and a conservative government’s drive to foster employer ease, this detracts from the gravity of addressing fertility issues and fortifying women’s standing in the workforce.

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