SEJONG, July 26 (Korea Bizwire) – The number of newborn babies in South Korea plunged at a double-digit rate for the sixth straight month in May despite yearslong efforts to boost the country’s low birthrate, a government report showed Wednesday.
About 30,300 babies were born in May, down 11.9 percent, or 4,100, from 34,400 tallied a year earlier, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
Childbirths have been on the decline since a 3.4 percent on-year gain in November 2015, logging a double digit on-year drop for six straight months starting in December last year.
The latest number also marked the lowest childbirth tally for any May since 2000, when the statistical office started to compile such data on a monthly basis.
The lowest number of monthly newborns was reported in December last year, when only 27,200 babies were born.
The low birthrate has been one of the most pressing issues for decades in South Korea, coupled with an increased aging population. Many are worried that low births will drag down the workforce in Asia’s fourth-largest economy and drive up welfare costs, undermining the growth potential of the economy.
The statistics data showed that the number of marriages rebounded, rising 5.5 percent on-year, or 1,400, to a five-month high of 26,900 in May.
At the same time, 9,300 couples divorced over the cited period, up 1.1 percent from a year earlier.
The number of deaths came to 23,800 in May, up 3 percent from a year earlier, the report showed.