South Korea has again recorded the world’s lowest fertility rate with the number sinking to a new low.
The rate in the country first dropped lower than one child per woman in 2018.
On Wednesday, figures released by the government showed the figure had dropped to 0.81 — down three points from the previous year, and a sixth consecutive decline, reports the BBC.
In comparison, the average rate across the world’s most advanced economies is 1.6 children.
Countries need 2.1 children per couple to keep their population at the same size, without migration.
Fertility rates globally have “declined markedly” in the past six decades, says the OECD — Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
But the trend has been particularly pronounced in South Korea. At the start of the 1970s, women had four children on average.
A declining population can put a country under immense strain. Apart from increased pressure on public spending as demand for healthcare systems and pensions rise, a declining youth population also leads to labour shortages that affect the economy.
In 2020, there was widespread alarm in South Korea when it recorded more deaths than births for the first time.
In recent years, economic pressures and career factors have been key considerations for people deciding on children, some experts say.
For the 2021 figures, experts cited higher living costs, a spike in house prices, and the impact of the COVID pandemic as factors discouraging Koreans from having children.