By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, Dec. 6 (Yonhap) -- The life expectancy of South Korean babies born last year reached 83.6 years, data showed Tuesday, hovering above the average of major advanced countries.
The average life expectancy at birth in 2021 marked a slight rise from 83.5 years tallied a year earlier, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
Compared with 1970 and 2000, the average life expectancy became 21.3 years and 7.6 years longer, respectively.
Boys and girls born in 2021 are expected to live 80.6 years and 86.6 years, respectively. The gender gap in life expectancy continued to fall since hitting a peak of 8.6 years in 1985.
South Korea's life expectancies for men and women are 2.9 years and 3.5 years longer than the average of the 38 member states of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The chance that a baby born in 2021 could die of cancer stood at 20.1 percent, followed by heart disorders with 11 percent, pneumonia with 8.8 percent, and cerebrovascular diseases with 7.2 percent.
If the risk of death from cancer is excluded, the life expectancies of the babies increase 3.5 years.
The data also showed a 60-year-old Korean man in 2020 is expected to live for the next 23.5 years, while women have 28.4 years more.
For those aged 40 last year, men are expected to have 41.7 remaining years for their life expectancy, while women have 47.4 years more.
A baby boy born in 2021 has a 63.1 percent possibility of reaching 80, while the chance of a baby girl living up to that age came to 81.7 percent.
South Korea is facing demographic challenges from rapid aging and a chronically low birthrate.
A total of 21,885 babies were born in September, down 0.1 percent from the previous year, separate data showed last month. It marked the lowest number for any September since the statistics agency started compiling related data in 1981.
Its total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- came to just 0.79 in the third quarter, the data showed. It was much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep South Korea's population stable at 52 million.
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