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Seoul, May 24 – The number of babies born in South Korea fell to a fresh low in March, exacerbating the dire population crisis of Asia’s No. 4 economy, new data showed on Wednesday.
Only 21,138 babies were born in March this year, down 8.1 per cent from a year earlier, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
It marked the lowest number for any March since the statistics agency started compiling monthly data in 1981.
The number of babies born in South Korea has been falling on-year for 88 consecutive months, reports Yonhap News Agency.
A low birthrate has been one of the major crises for South Korea, with younger generations delaying or giving up on having babies due to the high housing prices and economic uncertainties.
The country’s total fertility rate, the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime, came to 0.81 in the first quarter of 2023, down 0.06 on-year.
Experts say the rate is expected to further lose ground down the road, considering more babies are normally born in the early part of a year.
The latest rate is much lower than the replacement level of 2.1, which would keep South Korea’s population stable at 51.5 million.
Deaths, meanwhile, continued to outpace births, a trend that has been continuing since 2020.
The number of deaths reached 28,922 in March, down 35.2 percent from a year earlier, the data showed, leading to a natural decrease of 7,784.
The decline in deaths came amid the eased impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The data showed that the number of marriages soared 18.8 percent on-year to 18,192, as more couples tied knots amid lifted pandemic regulations.
Divorces rose 4.7 per cent to 8,255 cases over the period.