In July 2023, the count of newborns plunged to under 20,000, a historic low not seen before in the month of July. This downward birth trend has sustained for ten consecutive months since October 2022. Simultaneously, there has been an uptick in the number of deaths compared to the previous year, resulting in a net decrease in the national population.
According to data published by Statistics Korea on September 27, the total childbirths in July numbered 19,102, signifying a decrease of 1,373 births (a 6.7% drop) compared to July 2022.
Notably, this is the first time that births have dipped below 20,000 for the month of July since the inception of a monthly compilation data in 1981. The birth rate, which quantifies the number of births per 1,000 individuals, also witnessed a decrease of 0.3 births from the previous year, standing now at 4.4 births per 1,000.
Apart from an anomaly in September of the previous year, the general trend of contracting birth rates has persisted since December 2015. Since April last year, when birth numbers were recorded at 18,484, the births have consistently remained in the 10,000s.
This raises significant concerns that consistently falling below the 20,000 monthly births mark may become a persistent trend. The current pattern suggests a gradual reduction in the number of newborns as the year progresses. If this trend persists, the fertility rate for the current year could potentially be lower than last year's record low of 0.78 births per woman, potentially dropping to the 0.6 range. An overall decline in the number of births has been observed across all regions, except Chungbuk. To keep the population stable at 52 million people, the fertility rate should be 2.1 births per woman.
In the month of July, the death toll reached 28,239, marking an increase of 2,166 (a rise of 8.3%) compared to the same period in the previous year. There has been an increase in the number of deaths across all regions.
As a result, the natural population has been experiencing a net decrease. The number of deaths surpassing the number of births have occurred for 45 consecutive months since November 2019. This is true for all regions, with the sole exception of Sejong.
Meanwhile, the number of weddings in July was 14,155, a drop of 792 (5.3% decrease) from the previous year. The number of divorces in July totaled 7,500, a minor drop of 34 (a 0.5% decrease) compared to July 2022.