Country sets new fertility low

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South Korea broke its own record for the world’s lowest fertility rate last year, the national statistics agency said on Wednesday.

The country’s total fertility rate, which represents the average number of children a woman gives birth to in her lifetime, dropped to 0.81 in 2021 – down by three points from 0.84 a year before that, the figures from Statistics Korea revealed.

Only 260,600 children were born in the country of 51.7 million last year, according to the agency, further increasing concerns over its shrinking and aging population.

The fertility rate stood at 4.53 in 1970 when the government in Seoul first started collecting the data. It has been on a steady decline since then, with the fall accelerating in the 2000s amid financial turbulence. The figure went below 1.0 in 2018, as young Koreans were faced with unemployment and rising prices in housing, childcare, and education.

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