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Firstborns account for record-high 63% of newborns

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By Nam Hyun-woo

Sixty-three percent of babies born in Korea last year were firstborn children, data showed Sunday.

According to Statistics Korea, 156,000 babies born last year were firstborns, accounting for 62.7 percent of the 249,000 total newborns. It was the highest percentage since 1981 when the statistics agency began compiling related data. The previous record was 56.8 percent back in 2021.

The total number of newborns decreased by 4.4 percent in 2021, while the number of firstborns increased by 5.5 percent during the same period. However, the number of second children decreased by 16.7 percent from 91,000 to 76,000.

Since 2011, the proportion of firstborn children has been on the rise, while the ratio of second children has been declining since 2015.

More parents in Korea are choosing to have only one child, as they delay childbirth, due largely, to the increasing cost of childcare.

As of 2021, the average age of Korean women giving birth to their first child was 32.6 years old, up 0.3 years from a year earlier.

According to a Ministry of Health and Welfare report in March last year, Korea's average monthly childcare expense stood at 976,000 won ($750), accounting for 19.3 percent of an average family's income.

Nam Hyun-woo

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