S. Korea’s childbirths edge down in Jan

SEOUL– The number of babies born in South Korea inched down in January from a year earlier, data showed Wednesday, highlighting the country’s gloomy demographic situation with the chronically low birthrate.

A total of 24,598 babies were born in January, down 1.2 percent from a year earlier and the lowest tally for the month, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

January also marked the 74th consecutive month of on-year decline. Yet, the figure was higher than 17,084 newborns reported in the previous month.

The slight drop came as many young South Koreans are opting to distance themselves from life’s three major milestones — dating, marriage and having children — amid a prolonged economic slowdown and hikes in housing prices in recent years.

South Korea’s total fertility rate hit a record low of 0.81 in 2021. It marked the fourth straight year that the rate was below 1 percent.
The number of deaths, meanwhile, rose for the 11th straight month in January amid rapid aging and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said.

The number of deaths came to 29,686 in the month, up 9 percent from a year earlier. The on-year growth rate was down from a 17.7 percent surge in December.

Accordingly, the country’s population decreased by 5,088 in January, marking the 27th consecutive month of decline.

South Korea reported the first natural decline in population in 2020 as the number of deaths outstripped that of newborns.

The number of people getting married shrank 9.4 percent on-year to 14,753 in January, compared with a 10.7 percent drop in December.

Amid the downtrend of marriages, more people postponed or delayed their weddings due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the statistics office.

Divorces in Asia’s fourth-largest economy sank 12.1 percent on-year to 7,359 in January, according to the data.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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