The Big Picture: Korea’s birthrate in July dropped to an all-time low, further highlighting the country’s swift transition into an aging society.
By the numbers:
- 19,102 births were reported in July, a 6.7% decline from last year.
- This year has seen record-low births every month, with figures like 23,179 in January and 18,615 in June.
- All major regions, except North Chungcheong Province, reported a decline.
- In contrast, deaths surged 8.3% year-on-year in July, totaling 28,238.
Why it matters: This is the 10th straight month of year-on-year decline, suggesting a persistent trend rather than a temporary dip. The imbalance between births and deaths has persisted for 45 consecutive months.
Dive Deeper: The country’s fertility rate, the average number of children a woman bears, hit a record low of 0.78 in 2022. To maintain a stable population of 52 million, experts believe a rate of 2.1 is necessary.
What’s worse is the theoretical benefits of a declining population (i.e. more jobs being available for the youth, lower working hours at the same overall pay, or housing becoming more affordable) aren’t happening and threatening to make a dire situation fatal.
The aging factor: People aged 65 or older accounted for 18.4% of Korea’s population in 2022. By 2025, this segment is set to represent 20%, classifying Korea as a super-aged society.
The solution? Address societal pressures, such as excessive competition in education and jobs, to pave the way for increased births.
- It need not be some limited baby bonus check and then spouting terrible policy ideas, but real consistent YoY reforms like Czechia, which requires time, planning, and investment.
- Juwon Park’s twitter thread is worth reading for an anecdotal experience on why people in Korea don’t want to have kids.
What’s next: With current trends, Korea’s population, which peaked at 51.84 million in 2020, is expected to drop to 50.19 million by 2040.