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Korea's childbirths continue to decline in February

The number of newborns in South Korea dipped again in February, government data showed Wednesday, in the latest sign of the chronic low birthrate that has plagued the Asian country for more than a decade.

About 27,500 babies were born in February, down 9.8 percent, from 32,100 tallied a year earlier, according to data from Statistics Korea.

Monthly childbirths have decreased on-year every month since December 2015.

Last year, the number of newborns dropped to a record low despite decadelong efforts to tackle the problem.

The number of babies born in all of 2017 reached 357,700, down 11.9 percent, or 48,500, from a year earlier.


(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

That figure was the lowest number of newborns since the statistics agency started to compile such data in 1970.

The crude birthrate, referring to the number of births per 1,000 people, also came to an all-time low of 7 last year, down from the previous year's 7.9. 

Also, the total fertility rate, or the number of babies that a woman is projected to have during her lifetime, fell to 1.05 last year from 1.17, also marking a record low, the data by the statistical agency showed.

Coupled with a rapidly aging population, a low birthrate can reduce the available workforce in Asia's fourth-largest economy and drive up welfare costs, undermining economic growth potential.

The South Korean government has poured 80 trillion won ($74 billion) into dealing with the low birthrate for the past decade, including measures to encourage people to have more children by offering various incentives, such as cash rewards.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths came to 25,000 in February, up 9.2 percent, or 2,100, from a year earlier, and the number of marriages came to 19,000 in February, down 11.6 percent, or 25,000, from the previous year, the latest data showed. (Yonhap)

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