In South Korea new families aren’t forming fast enough, so the government and even corporations are taking increasingly active roles in trying to catalyze relationships that lead to marriage.

A front-page article by Su-Hyun Lee in Monday’s New York Times detailed this cultural phenomenon: “In a country where arranged courtships are fading into the past, the Ministry of Health and Welfare began promoting the idea of dating parties in 2010. … Since then, sponsorship of the parties has shifted mainly to ministry affiliates and local governments, which can win financial rewards for activities that promote marriage and childbirth. … Corporations, fearing critical shortages of workers in an aging society, have begun ending informal bans against office romances, with some now paying for dating services for their workers.”

The Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook website estimates the birthrate in South Korea as 8.33 annual births per 1,000 people, a figure that ranked South Korea 218th of 223 nations. (By way of comparison, the U.S. birthrate — 13.66 annual births per 1,000 people — ranked No. 146.)