S. Korea’s total fertility rate reaches new bottom

Posted on : 2021-08-26 17:38 KST Modified on : 2021-08-26 17:38 KST
Total fertility rate levels were down in all of South Korea’s metropolitan cities and provinces
(Clip Art Korea)
(Clip Art Korea)

South Korea’s total fertility rate (TRF) reached a new low of 0.84 last year amid a dramatic decline in families having more than one child and a drop in the number of marriages.

Statistics Korea released final childbirth statistics for 2020 on Wednesday. A total of 272,300 children were born in South Korea last year, down by 30,300 (10%) from the year before.

The TRF, which represents the average predicted number of children born to a single woman over her lifetime, was calculated at 0.84, down by 0.08 from the 0.92 recorded in 2019. Since falling below 1 for the first time in 2018 at 0.98, the rate has only continued to plummet.

One of the main factors behind the TRF’s decline is a decrease in the number of families having more than one child.

In 2020, a total of 154,000 first children were born, representing an 8.6% drop from the year before.

For second, third, and additional children, the rate of decrease was upwards of 10%. In the case of second children, the rate was down by 11.8% to 96,000; for third children, it fell by 12% to 23,000.

Another factor was the trend of women having children later in life.

By age group, TRF levels were down across the board apart from women in their early 40s, who showed a slight increase.

For women in their late 20s, the birth rate — representing the number of children born per 1,000 women in the population — was 30.6. The decrease of 14.2% compared with the year before was the largest yet.

For women in their early 30s, the birth rate stood at 78.9, down by 8.4% from the year before. It was the highest level among all age groups — but it has also been declining sharply over the past five years. Over that period, the birth rate for women in their early 30s has fallen by over 32% from its 2015 level of 116.7.

For women in their early 40s, the birth rate was 7.1, up by 1.6% from the year before.

TRF levels were down in all of South Korea’s metropolitan cities and provinces. But in top-ranked Sejong, the level was twice as high as in bottom-ranked Seoul.

Seoul came in dead last with a TRF of 0.64, or half the 1.28 level calculated for Sejong. Of South Korea’s 17 metropolitan cities and provinces, only six had TRF levels of 1 or greater: Sejong (1.28), South Jeolla Province (1.15), Gangwon Province (1.04), South Chungcheong Province (1.03), Jeju Province (1.02), and North Gyeongsang Province (1.00).

By Lee Ji-hye, staff reporter

Please direct comments or questions to [english@hani.co.kr]

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