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Surge in Single Women Driving Down Nat`l Birth Rate

Posted October. 12, 2009 08:00,   


The educational level and professional careers of married women are less important factors affecting the national birth rate, while the main reason driving the rate down is the surge in the number of single women.

A report released yesterday by the Statistical Research Institute under the National Statistical office said the phenomenon of older single women in cities is growing as serious as that of single men in rural areas in the past.

The number of single women is generally higher in areas where the combined birth rate is lower. The combined birth rate refers to the number of newborns projected to be borne by a woman in her fertile years.

The study covered every district in the country between 2000 and 2007. The birth rate was the lowest at Busan’s Jung district with 0.84, followed by Seoul’s Gangnam with 0.85 and Busan’s Seo with 0.86.

All three areas showed high ratios of single women, with the ratio of single women aged 35-39 at Seoul’s Gangnam district the highest in the nation at 21 percent. More than 20 percent of women in their late 30s there were not married.

The portion of single women was higher among those highly educated and in professional careers, as this group postpones marriages to pursue more education and job promotions. The ratio of women who finish graduate school among singles aged 40 to 44 was 5.2 percent, while the ratio was 1.3 percent among married women with children and 4.1 percent among men.

The portion of single women in professional and managerial jobs was 27.4 percent, far higher than 9.7 percent for married women with children.

A statistical office source said, “The gap in birth rates among married women due to educational level and occupation is gradually declining,” adding, “The low birth rate apparently results less from the relationship between a falling birth rate and higher education levels and a rising number of women with professional jobs, but more from the surging number of single women.”