SEOUL, April 26 (Korea Bizwire) — The number of babies born in South Korea dropped to yet another record low level in February, data showed Wednesday, further highlighting the population crisis facing Asia’s No. 4 economy.
Only 19,939 babies were born in February this year, down 3.7 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from Statistics Korea. It marked the lowest number for any February since the statistics agency started compiling monthly data in 1981.
The number of babies born in South Korea has been falling on-year for 87 consecutive months.
A low birthrate has been one of the major crises for South Korea, with younger generations delaying or giving up on having babies due to the high housing prices and economic uncertainties.
The country’s total fertility rate, the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime, came to 0.78 in 2022, marking the lowest number since the agency started compiling data in 1970. That year the rate was 4.53.
The latest rate is much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep South Korea’s population stable at 51.5 million.
Deaths, meanwhile, continued to outpace births, a trend that has been continuing since 2020.
The number of deaths reached 27,390 in February, down 6.5 percent from a year earlier, the data showed, leading to a natural decrease of 7,452. The decline in deaths apparently came amid the eased impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The data showed that the number of marriages soared 16.5 percent on-year to 17,846, as couples who have delayed their weddings tied the knot after pandemic-related restrictions were lifted.
Divorces inched up 1.3 percent to 7,228 cases over the period.