Posted February. 26, 2009 09:49,
Koreas birth rate has hit a three-year low due to the economic downturn.
According to a preliminary report released yesterday by the Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Ministry and the Korea National Statistical Office, the number of newborn babies was 466,000 last year, down 27,000 or 5.5 percent from 493,000 in 2007.
The birth rate hit bottom in 2005 and rose in the following two years.
The total fertility rate, or the average number of babies a woman is expected to give birth to over her lifetime, also fell to 1.19 last year from 1.25 in 2007.
The fertility rate of women in their 20s was the lowest. The number of babies born to this age bracket dropped 10 percent from 219,000 to 197,000. Those in their 30s delivered 259,000 babies last year, down 1.9 percent from the previous years 264,000.
The birth rate for a first child suffered a steeper fall. The number of first children dropped to 242,000 from 262,000 and that of second children or more fell to 220,000 from 228,000.
Falling fertility rates are attributed to the economic downturn that forces the younger generation to opt for a late marriage and a growing number of working women who delay having babies.
The number of marriages, a leading indicator for fertility rates, fell 16,000 last year from a year ago.
Kim Seo-jung, in charge of handling fertility rates at the Health Ministry, said, The low fertility rate will continue for the time being.
The total fertility rate over the next five years is expected to remain 1.2, but the figure can drop below one due to the worsening economic condition.