SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) - The record for the world's lowest fertility rate looks set to be re-written in 2019 by South Korea, again.
The country's fertility rate - the number of expected babies per woman - fell to 0.88 between July and September, the national statistics office said on Wednesday (Nov 27) in a statement.
That's the lowest quarterly reading on record in South Korea and follows the yearly figure of 0.98 for 2018.
South Korea already had the lowest rate among members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2017 when it reported 1.05, far below Japan's 1.43, France's 1.86, and Israel's 3.11.
The number of babies born this year up to September fell 7.9 per cent from the same period last year, extending annual declines of 8.7 per cent and 11.9 per cent in 2018 and 2017, respectively.
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Seoul, the nation's capital, had the lowest figure at 0.69 in the third quarter of this year while Sejong, a city home to a complex of government offices, reported the highest rate at 1.34.
South Korea is one of the world's fastest-ageing nations and is spending several billion dollars a year on incentives such as subsidised childcare leave, free nurseries, government-trained babysitters and cash stipends.
The government has so far had little success in reversing the falling trend, which survey after survey blames on rising home prices and shrinking job stability, among other factors.