Babies, Hyundais and economic power

A few years ago while I was attending a silent retreat, the retreat master took off his reading glasses and deviated off topic.  He had been leading a study on the Holy Family, but couldn’t help reflecting on some recent news: France was experiencing (as many countries are now) increasing unemployment, increasing immigration and decreasing productivity.

I remember Father chuckling softly and then saying simply, “France — have more babies.”

Well, it seems that the South Korea Health Ministry must have had a plant at ye ole retreat house, as there’s now a full out campaign to increase the Korean birth rate. 

Korea is simply a dynamo.  Since it hosted the Olympics in 1988, the country’s economy has exploded.  In the midst of the Detroit meltdown, Hyundai Motor Company appears on the cover of Fortune under the title “The Toughest Car Company of Them All.”

But, quality, education and engineering dominance won’t fund social services for an aging population. A declining birth rate won’t either.  In fact, the only thing preventing Korea from future progress is… well… the lack of future Koreans.

Deemed “the most urgent and important issue the country is facing,” the Korean government has aimed to increase the birthrate of 1.19 (almost the lowest in the world) to something close to 2.0. 

There won’t be any crazy Public Service Announcements, though.  The Ministry is setting an example by shutting off the office lights to encourage the staff to “go home and make more babies.” (My Hangul is a bit rusty, but it translates to something along those lines) 

Korea seems like it warrants a “buy and hold.”  Those that discount life?  Perhaps the short-sell has already begun…


Laurance Alvarado


Laurance Alvarado is a senior director with a prominent New York-based international turnaround and restructuring firm and the board chairman of the Morley Publishing Group. Over the last 25 years, he's run consulting practices in Washington, D.C., Latin America, and the Middle East and has done business in more than 20 countries. He is active in social concerns, attends Traditional Latin Mass, and is a member of the Pinellas Schola Cantualis. He's a cycling enthusiast, commutes around Washington on a Brompton, races Porsches, and competes in anything with wheels. He's a native Texan from San Antonio and a Texas Aggie who served his country in the Air Force. He loves history, strategy, free enterprise, sailing, dogs, and -- most of all -- his bride of 18 years.

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