SEJONG, Dec. 11 (Korea Bizwire) — Nearly four out of every 10 newlywed couples had no children last year, government data showed Tuesday, in the latest sign of South Korea’s chronic low birthrate.
Among 1.38 million newlywed couples — who have been legally married for less than five years as of Nov. 1, 2017 — 37.5 percent had no kids, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
The figure represented a slight hike from 36.3 percent in 2016 when the number of newlywed couples reached 1.44 million.
Statistics Korea said among newlywed couples who both work, 43.3 percent were childless in 2017, while the proportion was 32 percent for couples with a single breadwinner.
The data came as South Korea has been struggling to boost the country’s low birthrate.
The total fertility rate — the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime — stood at 1.05 in 2017, compared with 1.19 in 2008, according to Statistics Korea.
The statistics office warned that the total fertility rate could fall below 1.0 in 2018, much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep South Korea’s population stable at 51 million.
In comparison, the average total fertility rate came to 1.7 in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a group of 36 mostly rich nations, in 2016.
South Korea has made no significant progress in increasing the low birthrate as many young people delay marriage or give up on tying the knot and having babies altogether amid a prolonged economic slowdown.