The Declining Fertility Rate In South Korea Reaches A New Low

( – South Korea has the lowest birth rate in the world, and it has for years. Every year, the rate seems to drop to a new staggering low, even when it doesn’t seem possible. It dipped once again in 2023, leading to concerns that the population will be halved in the next 70 years or so.

According to Statistics Korea, a governmental website that tracks economic data in the nation, there were 230,000 births in South Korea in 2023. This number is nearly 20,000 less than in 2022, a 7.7% decline. This figure includes a 4.6% drop in the number of first births and an 11.4% dip in people having second children. Overall, the fertility rate in the country sits at 0.72, which means in their lifetimes, South Korean women, on average, will have less than one child—for every 100 women, only 72 babies are born. More concerningly, the rate for the October–December quarter was only 0.65.

Typically, for a nation to maintain its current population, the birth rate should sit at 2.1. Statistics show that if the rate keeps dropping as it is, it could lead to the population declining by 15.8 million by 2070. Then, by 2100, it will be halved, dropping from 52 million to only 26 million.

There are a number of reasons why people are hesitant to start families. For one, housing and education costs are exceedingly high. According to UPI, gender inequality in the workforce contributes to the declining rate as well. Then, there’s the fact that the work mindset doesn’t allow much time for raising a family.

Officials are worried the continuing decline in South Korea could have several detrimental effects on the nation’s economic stability. So much so, that they’re offering couples incentives such as subsidized housing, cash handouts, free taxis, and covering all medical bills associated with care and IVF treatments. Yet, it’s not enough. If the situation keeps going as-is, the predicted decline may actually come to fruition.

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