SEJONG, Aug. 23 (Korea Bizwire) — The number of newborn babies in South Korea dropped to a six-month low in June, government data showed Wednesday.
About 28,900 babies were born in the month, down 12.2 percent, or 4,000, from 32,900 tallied a year earlier, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
It is the second-lowest monthly figure after just 27,200 kids were born in December last year.
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 seven straight months starting in December.
For the first six months of 2017, a total of 188,500 babies were newly born in the country, down 12.3 percent from a year ago, raising concerns that the annual number of babies born will fall below the 400,000 level for the first time in the country’s history. Last year, an all-time low of 406,300 babies were delivered.
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 also showed that the number of marriages fell 8.2 percent on-year, or 2,000, to 22,300 in June.
At the same time, 9,000 couples divorced over the cited period, down 2.2 percent from a year earlier.
The number of deaths came to 22,000 for the month, up 2.8 percent from a year earlier, the data showed.