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If you look
at the numbers from the perspective of cohorts, the image changes.
The Completed fertility Rate, or rather the rate of births from women
in cohorts from the 1970s till 1990s, which have almost ended their
reproductive phase, is not faced with up and downs like the general
birth rate. The birth rates do not decrease as much and the up and
downs are not as fast. For example, the TFR in the late 1990s was at
1.6, the rate of the women cohort 1960 (if most the women stop after
40 to reproduce) on the other hand was slowly decreasing from 6.16 to
4.62 (©2015-IndexMundi). Nonetheless, the tendency to
decrease is vivid. While the women in the previous cohort had enough
children to substitute their generation, the general average number
of children for women, who were born in 1985, would be noticeably

Looking at
both graphs it is noticeable that the decreasing birth rate is
strongly influenced by the timely delays: If women postpone getting
pregnant for a few years, and decide to have babies later, the Total
Fertility Rate decreases as well. This rate is therefore very
dependent on the change of age in which the children are born. Taking
a look at the average age of women during their first pregnancy, it
shows a definite shift into older age. If women in the early 1990s
got pregnant with their first child at the age of 26.3, this number
had changed until 2010 to 30.1 (Korean Journal of Pediatrics,
2011) (Figure 3). On the other hand, even the general birth rate
of the birth cohorts had sunk. This means, that not only the age
difference causes a decrease in births, but also the number of
children born in a cohort decreases.

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The very
disturbing factor of Korea is its extremely high childlessness. When
in 1975, women who did not marry until 35 and had children, made up
about 1 percent, in the year of 1995 it was already 3.6 percent of
women. For women, who would be present in 2005, it is already 6.78
percent of them who would have no children. (OECD; Family
Database, 2015)

The most
important facts about the demographic development since the 1990s in
south Korea are definitely the decreasing birth rate, the increasing
age of women at the birth of their first child, and the steady growth
of childless women.

2.1.3 The
development of Female Employment in South Korea

the 1990s Korean women have had the same opportunities as Korean men
to receive the education. The proportion of women with college and
advanced educational backgrounds has steadily increased from 2.4
percent in 1975 to 13.1 percent in 1995 (Shim, 1998). In 1999,
women made up 37.2 percent of students enrolled in professional
colleges and 35.8 percent of academic higher educational
institutions. Korean women, in general, would not get the same
education as men. Not only did they receive fewer years of education
on average than men, they would pursue what have traditionally been
considered women’s fields. As of 1998, female students were a
majority in such traditional fields. For example, 73.1 percent of all
students at teachers’ colleges were women. Female students accounted
for 64.8 percent in educational departments, 57.3 percent in arts and
athletics departments, 56.1 percent in humanities departments, and
44.2 percent in departments of medicine (Women’s) (Shim, 1998).

trend of gender separation makes it all, but possible for women to
explore various career paths without regard for gender restrictions,
while substantially increasing the likelihood of women being employed
in traditional women’s areas. The situation for women is rapidly
changing, however. As of 2001, more than 35 percent of high-level
information technology positions were held by women and more than 100
of Ewha’s Information major graduates held chief executive positions
at companies specializing in new technologies (David, 2001).

But even
though there are no differences in the numbers of men participating
in the labor force, in east Asia and globally, the number of women
participating in the labor force varies a lot according to the
country. The number of women in the labor force is always less than
that of men, the same goes for Korea. Looking closely at the female
employment rate, we can identify a small M-shaped curve in the graph.
A part of the women, especially young women, fall out of the counting
for a short time, to focus on family founding, just to return back to
the labor force after a break. But the overall employment rate
decreases, as many women don’t return to the labor market at all
(Fig. 4).   

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