[Photo by Kim Ho-young]
South Korea experienced its largest natural population decline on record in June 2023, worsened by falling birthrates and an aging population, data showed on Monday.
According to Statistics Korea’s Korean Statistical Information Service (KOSIS) on Monday, the country’s natural population increase and decrease, or the number of births minus the number of deaths, for June was minus 8,205. It is the largest decline for the same month since 1981, when relevant statistics became available.
This was due to a record low number of births at 18,615 people and a record high number of deaths at 26,820.
The cumulative natural population decline from January to June this year amounted to 52,320 people.
This trend suggests that Korea’s population is likely to continue to decline at an annual rate of around 100,000.
To put this in perspective, the country’s annual natural population growth was as high as 515,000 people 40 years ago in 1983 but steadily declined to 482,000 in 1993, 249,000 in 2003, and 170,000 in 2013.
In 2020, the country experienced a natural population decline of 33,000 people for the first time, and this trend continued in 2021 with a decline of 57,000 people and 2022 with a provisional decline of 124,000 people. With this trend, Korea is set to record a fourth consecutive year of natural population decline in 2023.
Statistics Korea’s “Population Projection: 2020-2070,” released in December 2021, projected that the natural population decline would increase to 33,000 people in 2020, 53,000 in 2021, 79,000 in 2022, and 101,000 in 2023, reaching a peak of 110,000 in 2024 before gradually declining to 107,000 in 2025 and 104,000 in 2026.
These projections were based on a median scenario assuming moderate fertility rates and life expectancy.
Under this scenario, the total fertility rate, or the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime, will decline to 0.77 last year and 0.73 this year, bottoming out at 0.70 next year before rebounding to 0.74 in 2025 and 0.78 in 2026.
But with the low birth rate showing no signs of reversal, there are concerns that the total fertility rate could fall to the 0.6 range. The total fertility rate for the second quarter of this year was 0.7, the lowest for any quarter since data collection began in 2009.
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]