SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s fertility rate fell last year to a record low, data showed on Wednesday, in another milestone for the country with the world’s lowest expected number of children per woman.
The official annual reading from Statistics South Korea showed that the average number of children expected per South Korean woman during her reproductive life decreased to 0.78 in 2022, down from 0.81 in the previous year.
This is the lowest among countries in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which averaged 1.59 in 2020, and far below the 1.64 in the United States and 1.33 in Japan in the same year.
The government has failed to reverse the declining birth rate despite spending billions of dollars each year on childcare subsidies.
As of 2020, South Korea was the only country among OECD members to have a rate of less than 1, making it a shrinking population.
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Marriage is seen as a prerequisite for having children in South Korea, but marriages are also in decline in the country amid rising housing and education costs.
The capital, Seoul, had the lowest birth rate, at 0.59.
(Reporting by Soo Hyang Choi)
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