SEJONG -- The number of babies born in South Korea dropped 8.5 percent in July from a year earlier, data showed Wednesday, in the latest sign underscoring the low birthrate that has plagued the nation for more than a decade.
The data compiled by Statistics Korea showed that 23,067 babies were born in July, compared with 25,222 tallied in the same month of 2019. It marks the lowest number of newborns for any July since the statistics agency started compiling monthly data on newborns in 1981.
In the first seven months of this year, 165,730 babies were born in South Korea, down 9.8 percent from a year ago.
South Korea's total fertility rate hit an all-time low in 2019, a clear sign of its imminent population decline.
The country's total fertility rate, which refers to the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime, came to 0.92 last year, down from 0.98 a year earlier.
Last year marked the second consecutive year for the rate to fall below 1. South Korea was the only member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that had a total fertility rate below 1.
The 2019 figure is far below the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep South Korea's population stable at 51 million. It is also a sharp drop from the 4.53 in 1970, when the government began to compile related data.
The crude birthrate -- the number of births per 1,000 people per year -- also came to a new low of 5.9 in 2019, down from the previous year's 6.4. (Yonhap)