Childbirth Hits New Record Low in South Korea
Ben Cho, June 28, 2018, 8:22 a.m.
Fewer than 30,000 babies were born in April for the first time for a month, while childbirth has been declining year-on-year for 29 months in a row. Statistics Korea on Wednesday said only 27,700 babies were born in April, down 8.9 percent from the same month last year. The number of babies born from January to April this year was 117,300, a decline of 9.1 percent from a year ago.
If the trend continues at this rate, the total for the year is expected to be only 330,000, a fresh record low after last year's 358,000 which brought the total fertility rate to 1.05.
The main reason is a sharp decrease in the population in their early 30s, which is now the prime marrying age. Some solace can be found in the fact that there are more people in their 20s than in their 30s, which could eventually lead to a slight rise in the birthrate.
Lee Ji-yeon at Statistics Korea said, "In other countries, the age range of women who give birth is wide, but in Korea it's concentrated around 33 years of age. It remains to be seen how social expectations and norms surrounding childbirth will impact the overall birthrate in Korea."
Meanwhile, some 24,000 people died in April, up 3.9 percent from a year ago. The number of people who died from January to April this year was 105,800, up 10 percent from last year.
Although the number of marriages in April this year was 20,600, up 2.5 percent from a year ago, the combined figure from January to April declined 2.1 percent to 86,800.