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COVID-19 to worsen S. Korea’s falling birthrate, marriage rate

The COVID-19 pandemic is projected to add fuel to South Korea’s low birthrate, marriage rate and rapidly increase the nation’s aging population, the central bank said Wednesday.

“The pandemic will have a negative impact on the nation’s marriage and birthrate, leading to an acceleration of aging in the population,” the Bank of Korea said in its regular report on economic issues.

The total fertility rate for 2022 may even become lower than the Statistics Korea’s latest projection of 0.72, the BOK said. The corresponding figure as of the third-quarter this year stood at 0.84, government data showed.

The total fertility rate refers to the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime.

And while a baby boom period has usually followed times of crises, the central bank said that the unique economic and psychological sentiment of the latest pandemic is likely to subdue the boom.

The number of couples tying the knot here also declined 10 percent on-year in the March-September period to 118,000.

“The blow that COVID-19 has dealt on the job market, is likely to have affected marriages and childbirth among couples in their 20s and 30s,” the BOK said.

The number of employed people in South Korea declined for the ninth-straight month in November, Statistics Korea data showed. The figure reached 27.2 million in November, 273,000 fewer than a year earlier.

South Korea is also projected to have the world‘s highest proportion of elderly population before 2045, the BOK said, even surpassing Japan’s “super-aging” society. The size of the proportion is currently ranked No. 29 among the 37 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development members.

By Jung Min-kyung (