|Nurses take care of newborns at a hospital in Seoul. (Yonhap News)|
Statistics Korea said that 9,959 babies were born out of the wedlock last year, marking a year-on-year rise of 3.3 percent, or 320. Approximately 2.1 babies per every 100 were born outside of marriage, it noted.
Last year’s figure was the highest since 1981, when the agency began to compile the relevant data, it said, noting the figure has shown a steady year-on-year growth over the past nine years.
The number of out-of-wedlock babies fell to around 5,000 in
1989 before surging to above the 9,000 level in 1994 and falling to a record low of 4,196 in 1997. Since 2003, the figure has shown a steady growth, the agency said.
Some analysts attribute the rising ratio of out-of-wedlock babies to changes in the traditional and conservative perceptions of marriage, while others believe a society-wide sentiment against illegal abortions could be a contributing factor. (Yonhap News)