South Korea’s total fertility rate fell to zero.98 in 2018.
With a rate of 1.17 in 2016, it was already the lowest in the OECD.
Now it is the only country in the OECD that has a total fertility rate below one much lower than the OECD average of 1.68.
Statistics Korea attributed the decline in childbirths to the falling number of marriages and the falling number of women aged between 30 and 34, which dropped five percent on-year in 2018.
Another reason for fewer babies is that more people are starting their families later, which raises the age at which women give birth.
The average age that Korean women gave birth in 2018 was 32.eight years, two years older than the average age a decade ago.
According to Statistics Korea, more babies were born to mothers in their late 30s than to those in their late 20s.
After hitting 4.five in 1971, Korea's total fertility rate has been in continuous decline.
The number of babies born last year fell near nine percent on-year to around 327-thousand, following declines of 12 percent and seven percent in the two previous years.
The falling fertility rate comes despite the Korean government's efforts to tackle the problem by spending over 80 billion U.S. dollars over the past decade to try to increase the fertility rate, including subsidized childcare leave, free nurseries and cash stipends.
"The lower fertility rate hurts potential economic growth as production and consumption falls. It also has a negative effect on employment and could lead to a pension shortfall problem. Raising the overall quality of life and improving the work-life balance is ultimately the key to stopping the fall in fertility rate."
A fertility rate of 2.1 is considered the replacement rate that is needed to keep the country's population level stable at around 50 million people.
But according to Statistics Korea, the fertility rate is expected to continue to fall through 2021.
Kim Hyesung, Arirang News.