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S. Korea's total fertility rate hits fresh record low of 0.84 in 2020

All News 12:00 August 25, 2021

By Kim Soo-yeon

SEOUL, Aug. 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's total fertility rate hit a fresh record low in 2020 as the number of childbirths continued to decline, data showed Wednesday, pointing to the country's bleak demographic situation.

The country's total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- came to 0.84 in 2020, down from 0.92 the previous year, according to the data from Statistics Korea.

It marked the lowest since 1970 when the statistics agency began compiling related data. Last year marked the third straight year the rate was below 1 percent.

South Korea was the only country whose total fertility rate stayed below 1 percent among 38 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). As of 2019, the total fertility rate among OECD nations averaged 1.61.

South Korea is struggling with a decline in childbirths as many young people delay or give up getting married due to difficulties in finding decent jobs or buying homes amid a prolonged economic slowdown.

Last year, the number of newborns hit a record low of 272,300, down 30,300, or 10 percent from the previous year, the data showed.

It marked the first time the yearly number of childbirths dropped below 300,000.

In the 1970s, the annual number of childbirths stayed around 1 million, but it has been on a sustained decline, with the tally falling below 400,000 for the first time in 2017.

The country's crude birthrate -- the number of births per 1,000 people -- also came to an all-time low of 5.3 in 2020, down from 5.9 the previous year.

The average age for women giving birth was 33.1 last year, up from 33 a year earlier, the data showed.

The ratio of baby boys to every 100 newborn girls came to a record low of 104.8 last year, down from 105.5 the previous year. This means traditional preference for male children has continued to decline.

Last year, the country reported the first natural decline in population as the number of deaths outpaced that of newborns.

Policymakers warned the country may face an "age quake" starting in 2030-40, an earthquake-like demographic shock from a fall in population and rapid aging, if it does not tackle the issue in a timely manner.

South Korea's working-age population will likely decline an average of 330,000 per year in the 2020s when baby boomers, born from 1955-1963, reach over age 65, according to government data.

S. Korea's total fertility rate hits fresh record low of 0.84 in 2020 - 2


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