South Korea Sees Dramatic Decline in Marriages, Contributing to Falling Birthrate

SEOUL—South Korea has experienced a significant 40 percent drop in the number of marriages over the past decade, which has in turn contributed to a decrease in the country's fertility rate.

According to Yonhap News Agency, The data, compiled by Statistics Korea, reveals a sharp decline in marriages from 322,807 in 2013 to 193,673 last year.

Despite a slight increase in marriages in 2023 compared to the 191,690 reported in 2022, the overall trend has been downward, with the yearly total decreasing for 11 consecutive years from 2012 to 2022. The decline in marriage rates correlates with changing attitudes towards marriage in South Korea. A survey conducted by Statistics Korea found that only 15.3 percent of individuals aged 13 and above believed that "marriage is a must" in 2022, a decrease from 20.3 percent ten years earlier. Additionally, the proportion of respondents who thought "getting married is better" fell to 34.8 percent from 42.4 percent over the same period.

Financial concerns have emerged as a significant barrier to marriage, especially among younger South Koreans. More than 30 percent of those in their 20s or 30s cited "lack of money" as a reason for not getting married, while around 19 percent and 14 percent, respectively, stated they "do not feel the need" to marry.

The decrease in marriages has had a direct impact on South Korea's fertility rate, as the majority of births occur within marriage. The number of newborns in the country has declined for eight consecutive years, with only 230,000 births recorded in 2023, a 47.3 percent drop from 436,455 in 2013. This decline has led South Korea's total fertility rate to fall to a record quarterly low of 0.65 in the final quarter of 2023, significantly below the replacement level of 2.1 needed to maintain the country's population at 51 million.

These statistics underscore the complex social and economic challenges facing South Korea, including the pressures of modern life and the high cost of raising children, which are influencing decisions around marriage and family planning.

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