SEJONG, Sept. 28 (Yonhap) -- The number of babies born in South Korea hit an all-time low in July, while deaths climbed to a record high in the month amid rapid aging and the COVID-19 pandemic, data showed Wednesday.
A total of 20,441 babies were born in July, down 8.6 percent from the previous year, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
It marked the lowest for any July since the statistics agency started compiling related data in 1981.
South Korea has faced a chronic decline in childbirths as many young people delay or give up on getting married or having babies in the face of an economic slowdown and high home prices, combined with changing social norms about marriage.
The country broke its own record for the world's lowest childbirths last year.
Its total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- came to 0.81 children in 2021, down from 0.84 the previous year. Last year marked the fourth straight year that the number was below 1.
Rapid aging and the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic also pushed up the number of deaths to a record high in July.
A total of 26,030 people died in the month, up 1.2 percent from a year earlier. It marked the highest figure for any July and also represented the 17th straight month of increase.
As the number of deaths outpaced that of births, the nation's population declined by 5,588 in July, marking the 33rd consecutive month of fall.
South Korea reported the first natural fall in its population in 2020, as the grim demographic trend has continued.
Meanwhile, the number of marriages fell 5 percent on-year to 14,947 in July, the data showed.
More people have postponed or delayed their weddings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Divorces declined 9.3 percent on-year to 7,535 in July.
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