(Bloomberg) -- South Korea’s nominee for finance minister compared challenges posed by the country’s aging demographics to the iceberg that sank the Titanic, calling for immediate steps to cope with the situation.

“It’s already too late,” Choi Sang-mok told reporters on Tuesday. “A ship like the Titanic has no choice but to crash by the time it discovers a reef.”

It would take 30 years at the earliest to see the benefits of efforts to raise the world’s lowest fertility rate, so South Korea should be patient and thoroughly prepare for the implications of current demographic trends, he said.

Choi has served as President Yoon Suk Yeol’s top economic advisor and is now awaiting a parliamentary hearing for confirmation of his new role. He didn’t share how he would craft policy on aging if he took office.

A shrinking workforce is a major cause of Korea’s declining potential growth rate. The number of babies expected per woman fell to 0.78 last year, according to data released by the statistics office.

The government has introduced a slew of measures to encourage more births in an effort to reverse the trend, including a tripling of monthly allowances for parents.

A variety of factors are blamed for the reluctance among young people to have babies, including the high costs of housing and the competitive landscape for education. Increasing gender tensions are another factor regularly highlighted.

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