South Korea Sees Steepest Decline in Childbirths in August Since 2020

SEOUL - South Korea recorded a dramatic decrease in the number of newborns in August, reaching the lowest figure for the month since records began in 1981.

According to a news release by Yonhap News Agency, a total of 18,984 babies were born in August, which is a decline of 2,798 or 12.8% compared to the same month last year. This drop represents the sharpest on-year fall since November 2020, when a 15.5% decrease was noted. Prior to this, the number of babies born in any August had never fallen below 20,000.

Notably, the number of newborns has seen an on-year fall for 11 consecutive months. Conversely, the number of deaths rose by 1.7% on-year to 30,540, resulting in a natural decline in population by 11,556 for the month of August.

This decline in births is part of a longer trend; South Korea reported its first natural fall in population in 2019. The pattern of deaths surpassing births has continued for 46 consecutive months. This decline is often attributed to a variety of social and economic factors, including the delay or abandonment of marriage and childbirth due to high home prices, a challenging job market, and an economic slowdown.

In August, the number of marriages also declined by 7% on-year to 14,610, while the number of divorces decreased by 2.1% on-year to 8,057. Adding to these indicators, the total fertility rate for the second quarter of 2023 hit a record low of 0.7. This is significantly below the replacement level of 2.1 required to maintain the country's population at its current level of 51 million.

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