Population decline continues for 23rd consecutive month

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Population decline continues for 23rd consecutive month

Baby dipers at a store in Seoul in October. The number of newborns have been shrinking 70 consecutive months as people are reluctant to get married. [YONHAP]

Baby dipers at a store in Seoul in October. The number of newborns have been shrinking 70 consecutive months as people are reluctant to get married. [YONHAP]

Births and marriages are down and deaths are up, according to Statistics Korea Wednesday.
 
In September, 21,920 births were recorded, down 6.7 percent on year. The number of newborns has been shrinking for 70 consecutive months.
 
The total fertility rate in the third quarter was 0.82. Korea’s fertility rate is expected to remain below 1 for the fourth consecutive year.  
 
A total of 25,566 people died in September, up 5 percent on year.  
 
The natural population decline, which is difference between the newborns and those that died, was 3,646. Natural population decline has continued for 23 consecutive months.  
 
The statistics agency said a fall in the number of women in their 30s was in part to blame for the fall in the number of births. It also said that the changing social perception of having children was also a factor.  
 
The low birthrate and society aging will lead to a continued decline in the population.  
 
On top of the social changes, including women becoming reluctant to get married, as they are becoming more economically active, and young couples less prone to get married due to the high costs, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing regulations resulted in a decline in the number of weddings.
 
In September there were 13,733 marriages. That’s down 10.4 percent on year.  
 
“On average, couples have children two to three years after they get married,” said a statistics agency official. “The shrinking number of couples getting married is a signal that the declining number of newborns will continue for the next couple of years.”  
 
In September, 8,366 couples divorced, down 12.3 percent.  
 
In the first nine months of this year, the number of births totaled 203,480, down 3.5 percent.  
 
During the same period, deaths totaled 228,683, up 1.6 percent.  
 
Last year, the number of births dropped below 300,000 and the annual fertility rate hit a record low of 0.84.
 
The shrinking population is particularly affecting villages in rural areas.  
 
On Tuesday, the government announced that it be spending 1 trillion won annually for the next 10 years to prevent villages from vanishing.  
 
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said Tuesday that with the 1 trillion won in funding and the government’s earlier plan of connecting rural areas with major cities with transportation infrastructure, competitiveness of areas outside of Seoul and Gyeonggi will improve.  

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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