AsiaToday reporter Park Ji-eun
South Korea’s total fertility rate hit a record low of 0.84 last year.
Statistics Korea released the data on Wednesday. Last year, the number of newborns hit a record low of 272,300, dropping below 300,000 for the first time in history. The number of childbirths, which recorded below 400,000 in 2017, fell sharply below 300,000 in three years.
The country’s crude birthrate – the number of births per 1,000 people – came to 5.3 in 2020, down from 5.9 the previous year.
The country’s total fertility rate – the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime – stood at 0.84 in 2020, marking the lowest since 1970 when the statistics agency began compiling related data.
Last year marked the third straight year the rate was below 1 percent.
A fertility rate below 1 means less than one child is born to a mother.
South Korea is the only country whose total fertility rate stays below 1 percent among 38 member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). As of 2019, Spain had the second-lowest fertility rate of 1.23 among OECD countries following South Korea.
By region, Sejong had the highest fertility rate of 1.28, followed by South Jeolla with 1.15 and Gangwon with 1.04. Seoul had the lowest fertility rate of 0.64, followed by Busan with 0.75 and Daejeon with 0.81.
Birth rates peaked for women in their early 30s with 78.9 percent, followed by those in their late 30s with 42.3 percent and those in their late 20s with 30.6 percent.
However, birth rates for women in their late 20s and early 30s decreased by 5.1 and 7.3 percent, respectively, from the previous year.
The average age for women giving birth was 33.1 last year, up from 33 a year earlier, the data showed. The average age for women giving birth to first child stood at 32.3, and second and third child at 33.9 and 35.3, respectively.
The ratio of baby boys to every 100 newborn girls came to 104.8, down from 105.5 the previous year.