Seoul, Nov 29 (IANS): The number of babies born in South Korea fell by the most in about three years in September, data showed on Wednesday.
A total of 18,707 babies were born in September, down 14.6 per cent from a year earlier, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
It is the sharpest on-year fall since November 2020, when the country reported a 15.5 per cent decline in the number of newborns, or 3,673 babies, reports Yonhap News Agency.
The number of deaths grew 3 per cent on-year to 28,364 in September, and the country, accordingly, suffered a natural decline in population by 9,657 that month.
South Korea reported the first natural fall in its population in 2019, and the trend of deaths surpassing births has continued for 47 consecutive months, the agency said.
The country has suffered a chronic decline in childbirths as many young people opt to postpone or give up on getting married or having babies in line with changing social norms and lifestyles, as well as in the face of high home prices, a tough job market and an economic slowdown.
The number of marriages sank 12.3 per cent on-year to 12,941 cases in September, and divorces also slid 8.1 per cent on-year to 7,504.
During the third quarter of 2023, 56,794 babies were born in South Korea, down 11.5 per cent from a year earlier.
The total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- came to a record low of 0.7 in the third quarter, down 0.1 from a year earlier.
It was much lower than the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep South Korea's population stable at 51 million, according to the agency.