As the problem of low birth rate has been prolonged, previous governments recognized the importance of childrearing policy, developed a lot of related policies, and invested budget; however, the policy effect was insufficient. Nevertheless, in the analysis and evaluation of childrearing policies, it was evaluated that the goals were achieved. It means there were problems in monitoring, assessing, and analyzing childrearing policies. It also suggests that a different method is required to analyze and assess childrearing policies in future.
The current research is the first-year study of a five-year project (2018~2022). The purpose of this study is to select policies for continuous and in-depth analyses among childrearing policies proposed by the current government as national affairs, to analyze the opinions of policy consumers and the current state of policy enforcement, and to suggest methods for analyzing and evaluating the selected policies.
The main research methods include expert opinion polls and surveys. The expert opinion survey using AHP was conducted in order to select the major childrearing policies of the current government. In addition, a total of 1,500 people, including 1,000 parents of infants and elementary school children, 618 principals and teachers of childcare centers/kindergartens, and 500 unmarried and married adults without children, were surveyed.
As a result of expert opinion polls, 10 core projects on childrearing policies as well as two core policies on early childhood education and three core policies on childcare were selected. Thus, the final 15 core policy projects were selected. According to the surveys about the importance of 10 core policy projects with parents, principals and teachers, and married and unmarried adults, the top three projects were “securing funds for the balance between work and family”, “introducing claims for reducing working hours”, and “reducing working hours during a period of child rearing”. In the survey with parents, adults with children compared to adults without children, and females compared to males scored higher on all core policy projects. These results suggest that the biggest problem that hinders the compatibility between work and family is ‘child rearing’(family with children), and the social structure that women are responsible for childreaing is still strong.
In the survey with principals and teachers, the importance of the same project varied depending on whether their institution was national or private. For example, in the policy task of “achieving 40% enrollment rate of public kindergartens and public childcare centers”, the score of principals and teachers in private centers was lower than that in public centers. Furthermore, a primary factor of low birth rate in our society was given to the housing problems for adults without children, the problems in child rearing expenses and the compatibility between work and family for adults with children, child rearing expenses for males, and the compatibility between work and family for females. Therefore, there were differences in the perception of childrearing policies, low birth rate, and marriage/childbirth depending on their own situation.
The future directions and strategies for childrearing policies include clarifying the goals of childrearing policy, grouping various childrearing policy users, readjusting the existing childrearing policies according to grouping, and establishing childrearing policies based on mid-to long-term research. It is suggested that the promotion plans for the selected 10 core childrearing policies need to provide a differentiated policy depending on the needs of policy consumers such as adjusting working hours to offer enough time for ECEC, providing additional benefits for low-income households, and supporting ECEC services for general households. In the five major policies on child education and child care, it is proposed to expand public centers and strengthen publicity for kindergartens, and for childcare centers, to strengthen the professionalism of teachers and ensure proper treatment for them at the level of teachers in kindergartens.