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1 in 5 married couples childless after 5 years: data

This photo collage shows a bride and groom against the background of a hospital’s neonatal ward. (Yonhap)
This photo collage shows a bride and groom against the background of a hospital’s neonatal ward. (Yonhap)
One out of every 5 couples in South Korea who got married in 2015 had no children last year, government data showed Tuesday. 

According to Statistics Korea, about 18 percent of the 216,008 couples who tied the knot in 2015 and remained married as of 2019 were still childless, marking the highest figure since 2015. The percentage of childless couples married for five years has been on an upward trend, having increased from 12.9 percent in 2015 to 16.9 percent in 2018.

The trend appears to be affected by a growing number of late marriages and by couples choosing to pursue so-called “dual income, no kids” lives, opting not to have children for various reasons such as financial well-being or prioritizing their careers. 

“Some women who married late are likely to face infertility problems, putting parenthood on hold. Meanwhile, the trend of not having children also affected the recent increase in childless married couples,” said Kim Jin, director of the administrative data management division at the statistics agency.

The agency predicted that the percentage of families with children would decrease from 31.4 percent to 16.3 percent by 2047.

Meanwhile, of the 998,000 couples who got married for the first time in the five years up to November last year, 42.5 percent had no children, a sharp increase from 40.2 percent a year earlier. The average number of children born to those couples stood at 0.71, down from 0.74 in the previous year, data showed. 

The latest figures reflect the chronic low birth rates that have plagued Asia’s fourth-largest economy for more than a decade. In 2019 the country’s total fertility rate -- an internationally recognized measure of the number of children born to each woman -- hit rock bottom at 0.92, the lowest among member countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

By Choi Jae-hee (cjh@heraldcorp.com)
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