Low Fertility: Concerns for Military Planning in South Korea

Elizabeth H. Stephen, Georgetown University

The Republic of Korea has the sixth largest armed forces in the world. The only countries with larger military forces are: China, USA, India, Russia, and North Korea. Concurrently, South Korea is one of the countries with the lowest fertility rates in the world with a Total Fertility Rate of 1.2 first recorded in 2002. Despite this unprecedented and sustained low fertility rate, scholars and policymakers have not adequately considered whether low fertility will pose a security risk for South Korea in the coming years. Five possible options for avoiding the dearth of potential conscripts are discussed in the paper: 1) to decrease the size of active military; 2) to increase (or not shorten) the service time; 3) to increase fertility; 4) to increase immigration; and 5) to increase the number of women serving in the military. This analysis concludes with four policy options for ROK military planners.

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Presented in Poster Session 1