South Korea's fertility rate falls to lowest in the world

The number of expected babies per South Korean woman fell to 0.84 in 2020.
The number of expected babies per South Korean woman fell to 0.84 in 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea's fertility rate fell to the lowest in the world last year, data showed on Wednesday (Feb 24), as uncertainty over the coronavirus discouraged couples from marrying and having children.

The number of expected babies per South Korean woman fell to 0.84 in 2020, dropping further from the country's previous record low of 0.92 a year earlier, the official annual reading from the Statistics Korea showed.

That is the lowest among over 180 member countries of the World Bank, and far below 1.73 in the United States and 1.42 in Japan.

The grim milestone comes after the population fell for the first time ever last year.

Asia's fourth-largest economy is the fastest aging country in the OECD. The government has failed to reverse the falling birth rate despite spending billions of dollars each year on childcare subsidies and maternity leave support.

The nation's capital, Seoul, logged the lowest birth rate of 0.64.