Number of births in first quarter declines 4.3 percent on year

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Number of births in first quarter declines 4.3 percent on year

Maternity ward at a hospital in Seoul. [YONHAP]

Maternity ward at a hospital in Seoul. [YONHAP]

 
The number of births in Korea fell 4.3 percent on year to 70,519 in the first quarter, though the number is higher than in the previous three quarters.
 
As a result of the pandemic, Korean couples are less likely to get married, which has resulted in a decline in the number of births.  
 
The total fertility rate, which is the average number of children a woman will have during her childbearing years, was 0.88 in the first quarter.
 
The figure is up from 0.84 at the end of 2020 but down 0.03 percentage points on year. It has been falling year-on-year for eight consecutive quarters.  
 
A total of 77,557 people passed away in the first quarter, a 2.7 percent decline year-on-year.
 
While total deaths fell, the faster decline in the number of births meant that the country experienced natural population decline.  
 
In the first quarter, the difference between the number of births and deaths was 7,039.  
 
 
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The delaying of marriages was a key factor.  
 
Total marriages in the first quarter dropped 17.6 percent to 48,016. That’s 10,264 fewer on year.
 
In every quarter over the past five years, except the second quarter of 2015 and fourth quarter of 2018, the number of marriages declined on year.
 
After marriage, it took on average 3.73 years to have a child, which is 0.12 years longer than in the year earlier period.    
 
In the first quarter, 25,206 couples divorced, up 3.5 percent on year.  
 
The number of divorces has been falling since the first quarter of 2020. There was only a slight increase in the third quarter when the number of couples that ended their marriage rose 0.8 percent.  
 
The number of divorces usually rises in the first quarter and third quarter as a result of traditional holidays and the need to assemble for large family gatherings.
 
One of the reasons for the rise in divorces is the closing of divorce courts in early 2020, said Kim Soo-young head of the Statistics Korea’s vital statistics division. “And in the first quarter, there was an increase in the number of couples married for more than 20 years divorcing.”  
 
Couples that divorced after 20 or more years of marriage in the first quarter surged nearly 17 percent on year to 10,191.  
 
BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]  
 
 
 
 
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