SEJONG, June 23 (Korea Bizwire) – The number of childbirths in South Korea fell at the fastest clip in more than two years in April on a low birthrate and late marriage trend, government data showed Thursday.
About 35,300 babies were born in April, down 7.3 percent, or 2,800, from 38,100 a year earlier, extending the losing streak to five consecutive months, according to data from Statistics Korea.
The April figure also marked the steepest on-year decline since November 2013, when new childbirths sank 12.3 from a year earlier.
The downbeat trend in the number of newborns has been regarded as one of the most worrisome social phenomena in South Korea, coupled with rapid aging.
The chronically low birthrate and aging population is feared to reduce the workforce and drive up welfare costs, undermining the growth potential of Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
The country’s fertility rate, or the average number of babies that a woman is projected to have during her lifetime, hit a record low of 1.08 in 2005 and has hovered around 1.2 in recent years, despite the government’s constant efforts to encourage people to have more babies.
Meanwhile, the number of marriages gained 7.7 percent on-year to 22,800 in April, while 8,300 couples divorced, marking a 5.7 percent drop over the cited period.
The number of deaths came to 22,900 in April, down 3 percent from a year earlier, the report showed.