The number of babies born in South Korea edged down 2.2 percent in September from a year earlier, data showed Wednesday, in yet another sign that the country's population is on the verge of a sharp decline.
The data compiled by Statistics Korea showed that 23,566 babies were born in September, compared with 24,090 tallied in the same month of 2019.
It marked the lowest number of newborns for any September since 1981, when the statistics agency started compiling data on newborns on a monthly basis.
In the third quarter of 2020, the total number of newborn babies here reached 69,105, down 6.2 percent from a year earlier, the data showed. In the first nine months of 2020, a total of 211,768 children were born, down 8.8 percent on-year.
South Korea's total fertility rate hit an all-time low in 2019, a clear sign of its imminent population decline.
The rate, which refers to the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime, came to 0.92 last year, down from 0.98 a year earlier.
Last year marked the second consecutive year for the rate to fall below 1, while it is likely to stay below the threshold for 2020 as well.
Asia's No. 4 economy was the only member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that had a total fertility rate below 1.
South Korea needs to keep the rate at 2.1 in order to maintain its population stable at 51 million.
The country is estimated to have spent 185 trillion won (US$167 billion) from 2006 to 2019 to revive the nation's childbirths.
In September, a total of 24,361 people died, up 3.4 percent on-year.
The number of couples getting married reached 15,324 last month, down 3 percent on-year. In contrast, 9,536 couples got divorced, up 5.8 percent over the period. (Yonhap)