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Baby shortage confirmed again

Demographic crisis continues as newborn number at another low
Jan 31,2020
Total births in Korea hit yet another low as the country struggles to maintain its population.

According to Statistics Korea on Thursday, the number of births in November was 23,819, down 5.9 percent from the same month a year earlier.

The total is the lowest since the statistic was first compiled in 1983 and the 44th consecutive low.

In the first 11 months of last year, the number of newborns declined 7.3 percent on year to 281,784.

For full year 2019, the total number of newborns will barely break the key 300,000 threshold.

The number of newborns first fell below 400,000 in 2017, when the total was 357,771. That figure dropped to 326,822 in 2018.

As births fall, the number of deaths rises.

In November, 25,438 people died, up 5.1 percent on year, but in the first 11 months of the year, the number was 268,029, down 1.6 on year.

In November, the natural population change, which is the difference between the people who were born to those who passed, was minus 0.4 percent.

In October, the natural population growth was 0.0 percent.

Previously, negative population growth has only been recorded in December. The natural growth in December 2017 was minus 0.4 percent, and in December 2018 it was minus 0.9 percent.

Because of the cold weather, more people tend to die in December.

“It was the first time that the natural population growth actually declined during a November,” Kim Jin, director of population census at Statistics Korea. “This year, there’s a possibility that the annual natural population growth will be negative.”

Concerned about the shrinking population, the administration initiated its second population policy task force. The program involves 15 government departments and state-run entities, including the Ministry of Economy and Finance, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Employment and Labor and the Korea Development Institute.

“The number of newborns in the first 11 months has shrunk 7.3 percent to 282,000, which is an all-time low,” said Kim Yong-beom, the vice finance minister, who is heading the task force. “As the baby boomer generation becomes elderly, the productive population starting this year could shrink at a faster rate.”

The vice finance minister stressed the importance of the next 10 years in turning the situation around.

He said the government will come up with measures that could increase the population learning from the past, such as the government’s family control policies that contributed largely to the shrinking population.

The government plans to announce its repopulation plan in May.

The number of couple who were married in November shrunk 10.1 percent compared to a year ago to 20,493, 2,308 less than the same period in 2018.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]