SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Yonhap) -- Nearly half of recently newlywed couples in South Korea had no children, data showed Thursday, amid the country's chronic low birthrate and changing social norms.
Some 44.5 percent of the country's 1.18 million couples, who were legally married in the five years up to November 2020, did not have children, up from 42.5 percent a year earlier, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
The newlyweds include first-time and other newly married couples residing in the country.
The proportion of newly married couples with children has been on a steady decline from 64.5 percent in 2015 to 63.7 percent in 2016, 62.5 percent in 2017 and 59.8 percent in 2018.
The number of babies born to newlyweds fell to 0.68 in 2020 from 0.71 the previous year.
South Korea has been struggling with a decline in childbirths as many young people delay marriage or give up on getting married or having babies amid economic difficulties and changing social norms.
The country's total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- hit a record low of 0.84 last year, much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep South Korea's population stable at 52 million. It marked the third straight year that the total fertility rate was below one.
Home ownership affected childbirths, the data showed. Newlyweds who have their own homes had an average of 0.76 newborn, higher than 0.62 for newly married couples without a home.
Of the total, 42.1 percent of the newlyweds owned their own house, down 0.8 percentage points from a year earlier, but 87.5 percent of them took loans, with the average amount growing 18.3 percent on-year to 132.58 million won (US$112,939), the data showed.
It appears to have been related to the country's drastic rise in housing prices over the past couple of years.
The newlyweds earned a yearly average income of 59.89 million won in 2019, up 4.9 percent from a year earlier, and 52 percent of the total were dual-income households, according to the data.
The number of new marriages declined by 6.1 percent on-year in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the data showed.
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