The number of newborns fell 12.3 percent on-year to yet another record low in the first quarter.
Some 98,800 babies were born in the first three months of the year, compared to 112,600 a year earlier, according to Statistics Korea on Wednesday. This was the first time fewer than 100,000 babies were born for two quarters running.
The biggest decline was in March, down 13.1 percent from a year earlier.
The main reasons were fewer marriages and more divorces. Only 68,700 couples married in the first quarter, down 3.6 percent from a year earlier, while 26,500 couples divorced, up 4.7 percent.
“It seems highly likely that the number of childbirths will hit an all-time low this year, given the steadily declining trend”, said Lee Ji-hyun of Statistics Korea.
The number for the whole year is likely to fall below 400,000 this year, even lower than last year’s record of 406,300.
A Finance Ministry official warned the spiraling trend could lead to a labor shortage in the future.
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