63% of babies born in Korea last year were firstborns

Posted on : 2023-03-27 18:00 KST Modified on : 2023-03-27 18:00 KST
As the overall birth rate declines in the country, the proportion of firstborns is on the rise
(Getty Images Bank)
(Getty Images Bank)

Firstborn children accounted for 63% of all newborns in South Korea in 2022. It is the first time since rate statistics started to be compiled in 1981 that the percentage of firstborns has reached 60%. Fewer and fewer households are choosing to have two or more children.

According to Statistics Korea’s “Preliminary Results of Birth and Death Statistics in 2022,” of the 249,000 children born last year, 156,100 were firstborns, accounting for 62.7% of the total newborns. The proportion of firstborns exceeded 60% for the first time in 2022, surpassing the previous high of 56.8% in 2021.

The increase in the proportion of firstborns was due to an increase in the number of firstborns and a decrease in the number of subsequent births. While the total number of births decreased by 12,000 compared to 2022, the number of firstborn children rose by 8,000.

This is the first time in seven years the number of firstborn babies has increased since 2015, in which there was an increase of 3,000. This increase is likely attributable to the postponement of births during the COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, the number of second and third births in 2022 decreased by 15,000 and 4,000, respectively, compared to 2021.

Second children made up 30.5% of all newborns, while third children made up 6.8%. Compared to a decade ago, in 2012, the proportion of second children fell 7.6 points from 38.1%, and the share of third and subsequent children fell 3.7 points from 10.5%.

The average mother was 33.5 years old at the time she gave birth. When narrowed down to women who gave birth to their first child, the average age was 33. For those having their second child, the average age was 34.2, and for those having their third, the average age was 35.6.

By age group, the fertility rate (the number of births per 1,000 women in that age group) was highest for women aged 30 to 34 at 73.5%, followed by ages 35-39 at 44.0%, and 25-29 at 24.0%.

The average age at the birth of the first child in South Korea is high compared to other countries. As of 2020, the OECD average was 29.3 years old, while South Korea was 32.3. The US was 27.1, France 28.9, the UK 29.1, and Japan 30.7.

By Choi Ha-yan, staff reporter

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

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