South Korea’s birthrate hits another negative record

Some 32,100 children were born in January, 8 per cent less than in January 2017. Monthly childbirths have decreased on-year every month since December 2015. The fertility rate now stands at 1.05, half of what is needed to reproduce the population.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The number of births in South Korea has hit another negative record, government data showed Wednesday, in the latest sign of the chronic low birthrate for more than a decade.

About 32,100 babies were born in January, down 8 per cent, from 34,900 tallied a year earlier.

Monthly childbirths have decreased on-year every month since December 2015.

The number of babies born in 2017 reached 357,700, down 11.9 per cent. The figure marked the lowest number of newborns since the statistics agency started to compile such data in 1970.

The total fertility rate, or the number of babies that a woman is projected to have during her lifetime, fell to 1.05 last year, half of the replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman.

South Korea's population is expected to decline after 2032 due to low birthrates, this according to government data released on 22 March.

Coupled with a rapidly aging population, a low birthrate can reduce the available workforce in Asia's fourth-largest economy and drive up welfare costs, including measures to encourage people to have more children.

In fact, the South Korean government has poured 80 trillion won (US$ 74.5 billion) into dealing with the low birthrate for the past decade.

Government figures also indicate that the number of deaths came to 31,600 in January, up 22 per cent, from a year earlier, whilst the number of marriages stood at 24,400 in January, up 2.5 per cent.

Conversely, data for 2017 show that the overall number of marriages has not gone up. Last year, 264,500 couples got married, down 6.1 per cent from the previous year.