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Do childbirth grants increase the fertility rate? Policy impacts in South Korea

Abstract

In response to a low fertility rate, a number of municipalities in South Korea have been providing family benefits in the form of childbirth grants and child allowances. Using panel data for 230 municipalities that spans the years 2001–2014, this paper examines the impacts of family benefits on the fertility rate in Korea. I use the fact that different municipalities began providing the family benefits at different times to estimate the impact of family benefits on fertility rates using a difference-in-differences approach. This study finds a positive effect of family benefits on total fertility rate. Moreover, it finds little evidence of an anticipatory response within municipalities that adopted the policy. Given that a 10 million Korean won increase in family benefits is associated with a 3.5% increase in the total fertility rate, an increase in family benefits of about 44 million Korean won per child would be required to raise the total fertility rate to a safe zone above 1.5 children per woman, where population declines are gradual and easily reversed.

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Correspondence to Yeon Jeong Son.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Son, Y.J. Do childbirth grants increase the fertility rate? Policy impacts in South Korea. Rev Econ Household 16, 713–735 (2018) doi:10.1007/s11150-017-9383-z

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Keywords

  • Fertility rate
  • Family-friendly social policy
  • Childbirth grants
  • Family benefits

JEL Codes

  • J08
  • J22
  • J23
  • J80