SEOUL, March 31 (Korea Bizwire) — The birthrate in South Korea, plunging at an unprecedented speed, is largely influenced by the popularity of remaining single and a growing number of married couples choosing not to have children.
Last year, the country’s total fertility rate, the average number of births for each female, was 0.92, the lowest among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states.
According to the Statistics Korea, 12.1 percent of all women born in 1974 did not get married by the age of 40. The report described the group as ‘lifetime singles’.
Considering that among women born in 1944 only 1.2 percent were categorized as ‘lifetime singles’, the proportion has jumped by more than tenfold over the past 30 years.
The report anticipated that the proportion would reach as much as 18 or 19 percent if the marriage patterns observed between 2012 and 2014 continue in the future.
“South Korean society, once dominated by the belief in marriage, is now facing significant change in marriage practices on top of a low birthrate,” said Dr. Woo Hae-bong, co-author of the report and researcher at the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs.
What’s more, an increasing number of married couples are choosing not to have children.
Data shows that 12.9 percent of married women born in 1980 have not had any children. Compared to those born between 1920 and 1960 (2 to 3 percent) and 1970 (4.8 percent), the proportion has jumped significantly.
“Opportunity costs, career and economic risks, and the crumbling perception of traditional gender roles and family-centric values have led some to believe that birth is not mandatory, but a choice,” said Park Si-nae from Statistics Korea, one of the report’s authors.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)