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Family business: Korean grandparents demand better pay for child care

This article offers an idea that could help potential olim in the older bracket who can’t find a job so easily at their age, want, or require extra income.

By Christine Kim                                                                       IMG_20150921_115046

SEOUL (Reuters)- Ock Mi-eun, 57, has been taking care of her grandson since he was born two year ago so that her daughter could return to work. She receives 1 million won ($830) a month for her services.

It is not unusual for South Koreans to pay their parents to take care of their children. But the number doing so is on the rise, and the arrangement has become more professional as parents increasingly pay the equivalent of full babysitting rates.

“You’ve left your child with someone else: its only being responsible to pay some compensation,” said Ock , who picks up her grandson from his morning day care and looks after him until his mother retrieves him in the evenings.

Child-care classes for the elderly, rare before 2013, have cropped up at public health centers, They typically teach the resuscitation technique CPR, infant massage, feeding and playing with children.

“They’re very eager to learn modern-day child care because so much has changed from their time, and they don’t want to be looked down on by their children,” said Song Geum-re, who lectures at child-care classes for the elderly.

The trend is being driven by changes in South Korea’s population-the fastest-aging in the world. A record share of women work and a high rate of poverty amount the elderly means many older people need the income.

Even though government data shows almost 53 percent of women work, that level is low compared with other member countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

As of April 2014, 22.4% of all married women aged 15-54 in South Korea had quite their jobs due to marriage, childbirth or child care, government data shows.

New mother are often deterred from returning to work by a lack of day are, where demand far outstrips available places. A ruling party lawmaker said last  year there were 11 children for every day-care spot available, and in the more sought-after government facilities the ratio was 47 to one.


The share of families whose children were looked after by grandparents rose to 35.1% in 2012, the last year for which government data is available, from 31.9% in 2009.

A survey by the Gyeonggido Family and  Women’s Research Institute in 2011 showed nearly 80% of 300 grandparents who regularly took care of their grandchildren were paid.

Suh Moon-hee, a visiting research fellow at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, said paying grandparents for child care is not new, but the prevalence and the amounts paid have risen, suggesting a more professional arrangement.

“In the past, South Koreans paid a third of what they would have paid visiting babysitters because they regularly gave their parents financial support. Now they pay them full wages,” she said. “It’s more of a transaction for services.”

For many families, enlisting grandparents to look after young children has mutual benefits.

Compensation for child care can be a key source of income for elderly people in South Korea, where government data shows that 49% of those aged 66 and above live in poverty.

One Seoul district began paying monthly stipends in 2011 to grandparents who regularly take care of their young grandchildren. A lack of funding has derailed similar initiatives elsewhere.

The new professionalism among grandparent carers even shares some traits with day-care centers. Many grandparents are strict about working hours, with some cutting off service at 6 p.m. sharp, Song said.

“Grandparents exchange information among their friends who’s being given how much and what not. It’s all businesslike,” she said.

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500 Start-ups opens Israel office

By Roy Goldenberg


US venture capital fund 500 Start-ups is opening an Israel office. The fund, which operates one of the world’s five leading accelerators, has appointed Adam Benayoun and Diana Moldavsky as investment partners. They will be sourcing and investing in Israeli companies as well as supporting the existing 500 Start-ups network in Israel. 500 Start-ups has invested to date sums of between $100,000 and $250,000 in about 1,200 early stage start-ups worldwide.

Benayoun said that the fund plans making 10-20 investments over the next year. The total investment (each of up to $250,000) could reach $5 million.  Some of the start-ups will be invited to join 500 Start-ups accelerators in San Francisco and Mountain View.

Founded in 2010, 500 Start-ups is a venture capital seed fund and start-up accelerator based in Silicon Valley with $200 million in assets under management.