(CTN News) – In July 2023, South Korea witnessed a significant demographic milestone, one that sent shockwaves through the nation: the number of newborns dipped below 20,000, reaching a historic low for the month of July.
This decline in birth rates has persisted for ten consecutive months since October 2022, raising serious concerns about the nation’s demographic future.
Simultaneously, the country has experienced an increase in the number of deaths compared to the previous year, resulting in a net decrease in the national population.
These demographic shifts, as revealed by data from Statistics Korea, paint a worrying picture for the nation’s future.
South Korea’s Birth Rate Hit a Historic Low
Statistics Korea’s data published on September 27 revealed that the total number of childbirths in July 2023 numbered a mere 19,102.
This marked a significant decrease of 1,373 births, equating to a 6.7% drop compared to the same month in 2022. Notably, this was the first time since the inception of monthly data compilation in 1981 that July saw fewer than 20,000 births.
Furthermore, the birth rate, which measures the number of births per 1,000 individuals, decreased by 0.3 births from the previous year, now standing at a worrisome 4.4 births per 1,000.
The Demographic Challenge
The decline in birth rates has been a persistent trend in South Korea, with the anomaly of September 2022 being the only exception.
This worrying trend has been ongoing since December 2015, but it has accelerated since April of the previous year when births consistently remained in the 10,000s.
This trend raises significant concerns that the nation might continue to fall below the 20,000 monthly births mark, signaling a gradual reduction in the number of newborns as the year progresses.
If this trend persists, the fertility rate for the current year could potentially drop even lower than last year’s record low of 0.78 births per woman, possibly falling into the 0.6 range.
To maintain a stable population of 52 million people, the fertility rate should ideally be 2.1 births per woman.
A Nationwide Phenomenon
The decline in birth rates is not limited to a specific region; it has been observed across all areas of the country, with the exception of Chungbuk.
This suggests that the issue is nationwide and not isolated to particular geographical areas. It is imperative for policymakers to address this issue comprehensively to ensure the country’s demographic stability and economic well-being in the long term.
Rising Death Rates
In July 2023, South Korea also witnessed an alarming increase in the number of deaths. The death toll reached 28,239, marking a significant increase of 2,166 deaths, an 8.3% rise compared to the same period in the previous year.
This surge in deaths has been experienced across all regions of the country, further exacerbating the demographic challenge.
A Net Decrease in Population
As a result of these contrasting birth and death trends, South Korea has been grappling with a net decrease in its population. The number of deaths has consistently surpassed the number of births for 45 consecutive months since November 2019.
This trend holds true for all regions except for Sejong, highlighting the severity of the issue.
Weddings and Divorces
In addition to the birth and death trends, the number of weddings in July also decreased, with 14,155 recorded, reflecting a 5.3% drop compared to the previous year.
On the other hand, the number of divorces in July totaled 7,500, showing a minor drop of 34, a 0.5% decrease compared to July 2022.
South Korea is facing a demographic crisis as birth rates plummet to historic lows, while death rates continue to rise.
The sustained decline in birth rates is a nationwide phenomenon, and if left unaddressed, it could have severe economic and social implications for the country in the long term.
Policymakers and society as a whole must come together to find innovative solutions to reverse these trends and ensure a brighter demographic future for South Korea.