Marriages in S. Korea hit fresh low in 2022
By Kang Yoon-seung
SEJONG, March 16 (Yonhap) -- The number of marriages in South Korea crashed to yet another record low in 2022, data showed Thursday, adding to concerns over the country's already plunging birth rate.
Around 192,000 couples tied the knot in Asia's No. 4 economy last year, slipping 0.4 percent from 2021, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
The number is the lowest since 1970, when the statistical agency began compiling related data, and represents the 11th straight year of shrinkage.
The decrease nevertheless slowed from a 9.8 percent on-year drop tallied in 2021, apparently as couples who had delayed their marriages during the earlier stages of the COVID-19 pandemic held weddings.
South Koreans in their 20s further distanced themselves from getting married in 2022. The number of marriages in the age group 25 to 29 decreased 8.4 percent for men and 7.2 percent for women on-year.
The average age for grooms getting married for the first time came to an all-time high of 33.7 in 2022, up 0.4 from a year earlier, and brides reached a new record of 31.3, up 0.2 over the period.
The number of couples getting divorced, meanwhile, came to 93,000 in 2022, down 8.3 percent from a year earlier. Couples who have been wedded for four years or less accounted for 18.6 percent.
The number of divorces marked the lowest level since 1997, when the figure came to 91,160.
The number of South Koreans marrying foreign spouses stood at 17,000 in 2022, up 27.2 percent from the previous year.
The latest tally came amid South Korea's chronically low childbirths.
"We believe that a decline in the number of marriages will also have an impact on birth rates," an official from the agency said, pointing out 72.5 percent of births in 2022 occurred within five years of marriage.
A total of 249,000 babies were born last year, falling 4.4 percent from the previous record low in 2021, separate data from the agency showed earlier.
The country's total fertility rate, the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime, came to 0.78 in 2022, the lowest since 1970.
Last year marked the fifth straight year the rate was below one. Experts believe the rate should be at least 2.1 to keep South Korea's population stable at 52 million.
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