Childbirths hit record low in April; deaths jump to all-time high
SEOUL, The number of babies born in South Korea fell to a record low in April amid the chronically low birthrate, while that of deaths hit an all-time high due to rapid aging and the COVID-19 pandemic, data showed Wednesday.
A total of 21,124 babies were born in April, down 7 percent from the previous year, according to the data from Statistics Korea.
It marked the lowest for any April since 1981, when the statistics agency started compiling related data.
South Korea is struggling with a chronic decline in childbirths as many young people delay or give up on getting married or having babies amid an economic slowdown and high housing prices, coupled with changing social norms about marriages.
The country's total fertility rate -- the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime -- hit an all-time low of 0.81 last year, down from 0.84 a year ago. It marked the fourth straight year the rate was below 1 percent.
The number of deaths soared to a record high in April, affected by rapid aging and the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said.
The number of deaths came to 36,697 in the month, up 46.3 percent from a year ago. It rose for the 14th straight month in April.
It was the highest for any April since 1983, when the agency started compiling related data. The April rate was also the fastest on-year rise.
South Korea suffered the worst wave of omicron in March, with daily virus cases jumping to over 620,000 in the middle of the month. COVID-19 deaths hit an all-time high of 469 on March 24.
As the number of deaths outpaced that of births, the country's population declined by 15,573 in April, marking the 30th straight month of fall.
South Korea reported the first natural fall in population in 2020, as the grim demographic trend has continued.
The country's total population declined for the first time last year, due to the low birthrate, rapid aging and a fall in incoming foreigners over the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the number of people getting married inched down 0.4 percent on-year to 15,795.
Amid the downtrend of marriages, more people postponed or delayed their weddings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said.
Divorces slid 20.4 percent on-year to 7,198, due largely to a fall in marriages.
Source: Yonhap News Agency