The number of newborns in South Korea fell 9.6 percent in May from a year earlier, government data showed Tuesday, a sign of the continuing low birthrate that has plagued Asia's fourth-largest economy for more than a decade.
The data compiled by Statistics Korea showed that 25,300 babies were born in May, compared with 28,000 babies tallied in the same month of 2018.
It marks the lowest number of newborns reported for any May since 1981, when the statistics agency started compiling data on newborns on a monthly basis.
In 2018, South Korea's total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- hit a record low of 0.98, much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep South Korea's population stable at 51 million.
The decline in childbirths comes as some young South Koreans are opting to distance themselves from life's three major milestones -- dating, marriage and having children -- because they cannot find decent jobs amid a prolonged economic slowdown.
Other factors are the high cost of private education for kids and skyrocketing home prices, as well as the difficulties women face in finding jobs after spending extended time away from work to raise children.
The number of people tying the knot came to 23,100 in May, the lowest for any May since 1981. (Yonhap)