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Korea's childbirths continue to decline in April

The number of newborns in South Korea fell again in April, government data showed Wednesday, in the latest sign of the chronic low birthrate that has plagued Asia's fourth-largest economy for more than a decade.

About 27,700 babies were born in April, down 8.9 percent, from 30,400 tallied a year earlier, according to data by Statistics Korea.

In the first four months of the year, the number of newborns fell 9.1 percent on-year to 117,000, official numbers showed.

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

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

Last year, the number of newborns dropped to a record low despite concerted 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.

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

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

In addition, 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 from the statistical agency showed.

Coupled with a rapidly aging population, a low birthrate reduces the available workforce in the country and drives up welfare costs. Such a development can seriously undermine economic growth potential.

The South Korean government has poured 80 trillion won ($74 billion) into dealing with the low birthrate in 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 24,000 in April, up 3.9 percent from a year earlier. (Yonhap)

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