South Korea has been struggling off lately with a chronic decline in childbirths. It recorded the number of babies born to hit a record low in September, thus underscoring the country’s bleak demographic situation with the chronically low birth rate.
According to the data compiled by Statistics Korea, a total of 21,920 babies were born in September, down 6.7 percent from the previous year.
The number of newborns in the third quarter also reached an all-time low of 66,563, down 3.4 percent from a year earlier.
Many young people in the country delay and give up on getting married or having babies amid a prolonged economic slowdown and rapidly increasing housing prices.
According to the data, the country’s total fertility rate in the third quarter stood at an all-time low of 0.82, down from 0.84 the previous year and the lowest. While last year, total fertility rate hit a record low of 0.84, thus marking the third straight year that the rate was below 1 percent.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths increased for the seventh straight month in the reporting month to 25,566, up 5 percent from a year earlier due to rapid aging. While in the third quarter overall, deaths rose 4.7 percent on-year to 77,077.
The country’s population in September declined by 3,646, marking the 23rd consecutive month of decline. While in the first nine months of the year, there was a natural fall of population by 26,204.
The country in 2020 had reported the first natural decline in population, as the number of deaths outpaced that of newborns.
According to policymakers, if the country does not tackle demographic challenges in a timely manner it warns to may face an “age quake” in 2030-40, an earthquake-like demographic shock from a fall in population and aging population.
In the meantime, the number of people getting married also declined 10.4 percent on-year to 13,733 in the reporting month.
According to the statistics office, amid the downtrend of marriages, more people postponed or delayed their weddings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While divorces declined 12.3 percent to 8,366 in the same month.