South Korea’s fertility rate hits record low in 2021, may face ‘age quake’


Seoul: South Korea`s fertility rate hit a new all-time in 2021. The number of newborn babies also dropped to 266 thousand. However, the fertility rate of women over 35 years increased compared to the previous year, and the fertility rate in the early 40s was the highest since statistics were compiled.

According to the 2021 Birth Statistics released by Statistics Korea on Wednesday, the number of newborn babies last year was 266,600, down 11,800 (-4.3 per cent) from a year ago.

The number of newborn babies annually was around 1 million until 1970, when statistics began to be compiled, but continued to decrease to 500,000 in 2001 and 400,000 in 2002.

It fell to 300,000 in 2017 and decreased to 200,000 in 2020m just 3 years later. The crude birth rate, which indicates the number of births per 1,000 populations, also hit a record low of 5.1.

The total fertility rate, the expected number of births over a woman`s lifetime, was 0.81, down 0.03 (-3.4 per cent) from the previous year.

It is also the lowest ever, and Korea was the only country that had a total fertility rate of less than one among the 38 OECD member countries.

An official from Statistics Korea explained, “The age of women at first birth has increased as marriage and childbirth increased, and the overall fertility rate has continued to decline as the birth rate in the late 20s or early 30s has decreased.”At the same time, the number of multi-child families is also decreasing. Last year, the number of children born in families with two or more children was 21,000, down 5.9 per cent year-on-year. The proportion of babies born in families with two or more children also hit the lowest of 8.2 per cent. The gender ratio at birth, which means the number of boys born for 100 girls, increased from 0.3 to 105.1.

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