|Korea Times file|
By Jung Min-ho
Korea reported more deaths than births for the third consecutive month in January.
According to Statistics Korea Wednesday, 28,471 people died last month, up 4 percent from a year earlier. Meanwhile, the number of newborns decreased 11.6 percent to 26,818.
The trend of more deaths than births started in November, with the government running out of policy ideas and ― now with the COVID-19 pandemic ― resources to boost the falling birth rate.
Korea's total fertility rate ― the average number of children a woman bears in her lifetime ― hit a record low of 0.92 in 2019, a further drop from 0.98 a year before. The level is the lowest among members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and far below the replacement level of 2.1, which the country needs to keep its population stable at 51 million.
The trend is only expected to accelerate, with fewer couples tying the knot. Data shows that 239,200 couples married in 2019, down 7.1 percent from a year earlier.
The agency said the number of deaths is expected to exceed that of births for all of this year, although the total population may still increase with an influx of workers from overseas.