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Majority of S. Koreans think French civil partnership 'PACS' can mitigate low birth rate crisis: survey

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : November 28, 2023, 17:47 Updated : January 22, 2024, 21:44
Gettyimages Bank
[Gettyimages Bank]

SEOUL -- A survey showed about 62.3 percent of South Koreans believe the Pacte Civil de Solidarité, a French civil partnership framework that provides couples with legal recognition and certain benefits similar to marriage, can help overcome South Korea's low fertility rate crisis. The legal partnership, mostly favored by those who prefer a less formal commitment, does not hold the same legal status as marriage.

France adopted the Pacte Civil de Solidarité (PACS) in 1999 to protect the rights of two adults who wish to formalize their relationship without getting married. PACS is often considered to provide more flexibility than marriage in disposing of assets after a breakup. Although PACS does not offer all the rights and responsibilities of marriage, PACS partners are still eligible for partial benefits including tax, healthcare, social security, and inheritance.  

South Korea is experiencing a significant aging phenomenon, with about 30 percent of its population expected to be aged 75 and older by 2073. Government data showed that the fertility rate in 2022 was 0.78 babies per couple.

In a survey of 1,200 South Koreans aged between 19 and 79, conducted in October, around 62.3 percent of respondents said the adoption of PACS can alleviate the fertility crisis in South Korea. 49 percent of participants aged less than 50 answered that they don't plan to have children in the future. Among them, 24.4 percent said they feel burdened to nurture and educate kids, and 22.3 percent cited "economic instability." The survey was collaboratively carried out by South Korea's culture ministry and Presidential Committee on Ageing Society and Population Policy.

In 2022, around 191,700 South Korean couples got married, marking the lowest figure since 1970. The government has spent an enormous amount of money on tackling its aging population and low birth rate. Various government incentives including cash rewards have been offered to have more children, but an increasing number of women work and want to hold onto their careers. 

Some South Koreans are skeptical about the French civil partnership. "Women will face significant challenges if they go through a breakup with their PACS partner after giving birth," a 28-year-old businesswoman Kim Na-hyun told Aju Korea Daily on November 28. She added: "Such relationships may encounter reluctance in South Korea, where many people are still conservative about cohabiting without marriage."

In 2022, France's fertility rate was recorded at 1.8, which is higher than the average rate of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) at 1.59. According to data released by market research firm Statista, the number of PACS couples in the European nation increased to 192,000 in 2022 from 173,894 in 2020. The country also allows the legal partnership for same-sex couples.

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