The number of babies born in Korea shrank 4.2 percent in March, data showed Wednesday, pointing to the country's gloomy demographic situation and chronically low birthrate.
A total of 22,925 babies were born in Asia's fourth-largest economy in March, compared with 23,934 a year earlier, according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.
Yet the number was up from the previous month's 20,654 newborns, which was an all-time low.
In the first quarter of the year, 68,177 babies were born in the country, down 2.8 percent from a year ago.
Korea is struggling with a chronic decrease in childbirths as many young people delay or give up on getting married or having babies amid a prolonged economic slowdown and skyrocketing housing prices.
The country's total fertility rate ― the average number of children a woman could bear in her lifetime ― sank to an all-time low of 0.81 last year, down from 0.84 a year ago, the fourth straight year the rate was below 1 percent.
The number of deaths spiked 67.6 percent year-on-year to 44,487 in March amid rapid aging and the COVID-19 pandemic, marking the 13th straight month of increases. In the first quarter, the number of deaths jumped 33.2 percent to 103,363.
Accordingly, the country's population fell by 21,526 in March, representing the 29th straight month of decline.
Korea reported the first natural decline in population in 2020, as the number of deaths outpaced that of births. The country's total population declined for the first time last year, due to the low birthrate, rapid aging and a fall in incoming foreigners due to the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the number of people getting married decreased 8.6 percent year-on-year to 15,316 in March, a turnaround from a 2.2 percent increase a month earlier. In the January to March period, the figure fell 5.5 percent to 45,377.
Divorces dropped 13.1 percent to 7,882 in March, with the first-quarter tally dipping 11.2 percent to 22,377, according to the data. (Yonhap)