Sunday, March 18, 2012

Korea's Incredible Shrinking Child Population

Because I am an English teacher here in South Korea, I spend all day with kids.  To me, it seems like they are everywhere all the time and I cannot get away from them.  But most Koreans I speak with often carry a melancholy tone about the shrinking school sizes and the narrowing family trees towards the bottom and the cost of starting a family feels more and more out of reach for many Koreans.

More women go on to university than men, while the number of elementary school students dropped by 34.2 percent in two decades, Statistics Korea said Thursday.

According to its report of the 2011 census, about 75 percent of women went to universities or colleges, compared to 70.2 percent of men. In addition, about 75.8 percent of elementary school teachers were women, a steep rise from 51.6 percent in 1991.

Due to the low birthrate, the number of elementary, middle and high school pupils dropped to 7 million, down 24.1 percent from 9.2 million in 1991. Elementary schools saw the biggest decrease in pupil numbers at 34.2 percent, followed by middle schools at 14.4 percent, and high schools at 12.1 percent.

But more teachers were placed in classrooms, with the 17.3 pupils per teacher at primary schools, compared to 34.4 in 1991.

The aging society was also evident. More than 31 percent of medical expenses last year were spent by over-65s. A total of 4,150 welfare facilities for elderly citizens have been established, a steep rise from 247 in 2000.

A total of 1,917,000 crimes were reported in 2010, which down about 11.6 percent from a year earlier. It translates into 3,750 cases reported for every 100,000 people. But the number of reported rapes increased 23.4 percent, to 19,939 cases.

Traffic accidents also showed a slight decrease, with 227,000 cases reported in 2010, down about 2.2 percent from a year before. The number of fatalities also dropped to 15.1 a day from 33.8 in 1990.

About 34.8 percent of the population donated money to charity in 2011, showing an increase from 31.6 percent in 2006.
These are all fascinating statistics.  That is also incredible that the average size of classrooms in 1991 was nearly twice what it is today, when most of my classes average around 26 now.


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