|Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom speaks during a meeting at the government complex in Seoul, Friday. Yonhap|
South Korea's population is expected to decline this year for the first time since the nation began compiling data, as the number of monthly births has hit a record low, Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom said Friday.
In April, the number of births fell for the 53rd consecutive month and South Korea has seen a natural decline in population since November last year, Kim said.
A natural population decrease occurs when the deaths outnumber births.
"This year is expected to become the first year of a population decline," Kim told a meeting of senior officials on demographic changes.
The coronavirus pandemic is expected to further decrease the number of births as people have delayed marriages, Kim said.
The number of marriages plunged 21.8 percent year-on-year to a record low of 15,670 in April, Kim said.
The government will soon draw up comprehensive measures to tackle the low birthrate, Kim said.
In the first four months of this year, 97,470 babies were born in South Korea, down 10.9 percent from the same period a year ago.
South Korea's total birthrate hit an all-time low in 2019, a clear sign of future population decline.
The total birthrate, which refers to the average number of children a woman chooses to bear in her lifetime, came to 0.92 last year, down from 0.98 in 2018.
Last year marked the second consecutive year for South Korea to register a rate below 1, the only member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to do so.
The 2019 figure is far below the replacement level of 2.1 that would keep the country's population stable at 51 million. It was also a sharp drop from the 4.53 birthrate in 1970, when the government began to compile related data. (Yonhap)