Korea‘s birth rate hits record low in January

2024.03.28 09:29:53

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]이미지 확대

[Graphics by Song Ji-yoon]

The number of newborns in South Korea hit a record low in January 2024, raising concerns that the country’s total fertility rate could fall below 0.7 this year after dropping to a record low of 0.72 in 2023.

There were 21,442 births in January, down 7.7 percent from a year earlier, Statistics Korea said on Wednesday. The crude birth rate, which measures births per 1,000 people, was 5, down 0.3 from a year earlier. But the number of births rebounded into the 20,000s in the 10 months after March 2023, when it stood at 21,218. Birth rates tend to be higher at the beginning of the year in Korea because parents prefer to have births to coincide with the start of the school year, Statistics Korea explained.

By region, Daejeon and North Chungcheong Province saw an increase in births, while 15 other regions saw a decrease. Daejeon saw 705 births in January 2024, up from 683 during the same period during the previous year, and North Chungcheong Province had 732 births, up from 700 births in January 2023.

The number of deaths in January 2024 decreased by 0.5 percent from the same period during the previous year to 32,490. As the number of births decreased more than the number of deaths, the population saw a natural decrease of 11,047, continuing the downward trend it has maintained for 51 consecutive months since November 2019.

There were 28,000 marriages in January 2024, an increase of 11.6 percent from the previous year and the first time since December 2020 that the number of marriages exceeded 20,000. Statistics Korea attributed the increase to two additional weekdays for marriage registration compared to January 2023 due to the Lunar New Year holiday. Divorces also increased by 9.5 percent year-on-year, totaling 7,940 during the same period.

Population migration hit 655,000 in February 2024, a 5.2 percent increase from the same period during the previous year, the highest recorded since February 2022. The population migration rate increased slightly to 16.2 percent compared to the same month in 2023.

Regional migration patterns show a clear trend of concentration in the capital region and exodus from non-capital regions. Six regions including Gyeonggi Province, Seoul, and Incheon saw net inflows, adding 4,972, 3,134, and 3,071 people to their respective populations, while 11 regions including South Gyeongsang Province, North Gyeongsang Province, and South Jeolla Province experienced net outflows, losing 3,326, 1,631, and 1,260 people respectively.

By Han Sang-heon and Chang Iou-chung

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