By Jung Min-ho
The number of babies born in Korea dropped 10.4 percent in April from a year earlier, in the latest sign underscoring a looming population decline.
According to Statistics Korea Wednesday, 23,420 babies were born in April, compared with 26,151 in April 2019.
It marks the lowest number of newborns for any April since the state agency started keeping records in 1981.
Meanwhile, the number of people who died increased 3.3 percent to 24,628.
All this indicates that the country is evidently on track this year to reporting its first natural population decline.
After deaths outnumbered births for the first time in November, the trend has accelerated. A total of 97,470 babies were born in the first four months of this year, down 10.9 percent from the same period last year.
The falling number of marriages ― to 15,670 in April from 20,026 a year earlier ― also bodes ill for a government that is struggling to boost birthrates.
Korea's total fertility rate ― the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime ― was 0.92 last year, down from 0.98 a year earlier, far below the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep the population stable at 51 million.