News Articles

South Korea, the world`s lowest fertility rate sinks lower and lower

Source: Le Monde, 02/02/2024

Researcher Sébastien Lechevalier reports on how the causes of declining fertility among Korean women vary from generation to generation.

Falling birth rates affect most of the developed countries of East Asia and Europe, resulting in accelerated aging of the population. However, the scale of the phenomenon is greatest in South Korea. In 2021, the country`s total fertility rate (total amount of children per woman of childbearing age) was 0.81, compared with 1.16 in China, 1.19 in Spain, 1.25 in Italy, 1.3 in Japan, 1.58 in Germany and 1.8 in France. Most importantly, it`s a long-term situation: The fertility rate has been below 1.3 for two decades.

This is an essential point, as the decline in fertility in developed countries is often evaluated as resulting from the fact that women tend to postpone the exact time when they give birth, without actually having fewer children than generations of previous decades.
In contrast, the non-transitory nature of the Korean situation seems to show that the average number of children per woman tends to fall sharply over the medium-long term for a variety of successive reasons over time. This has been demonstrated by a study carried out on several generations of Korean women by Jisoo Hwang, Professor of Economics at Seoul National University (`Later, Fewer, None? Recent Trends in Cohort Fertility in South Korea`, Demography 60/2, 2023).

The main outcome is a detailed assessment of how the causes of this low fertility have evolved. In short, the generation of women born in the 1960s married but had fewer children than previous generations. This was followed by a generation with a much lower marriage rate. Finally, the generation born in the 1980s has been characterized by a greater number of childless women, even when they are married

South Africa Immigration Company