[News Focus] Deaths outnumber births in 12 of 13 months
Korea sees gap between the two widen in November
Published : Dec 6, 2020 - 16:54
Updated : Dec 6, 2020 - 17:08
A residential town in Dae-dong, Daejeon shows mural paintings on house walls, which was conducted as part of an urban regeneration policy. Daejeon, the fifth-largest city in Korea, posted population decrease of 1,663 in November 2020. (Korea Tourism Organization).
SEJONG -- The number of births in South Korea renewed its all-time low last month at 21,043, with the gap with the number of deaths widening after the latter overtook births last year.

According to the Ministry of Interior and Safety, there were 25,997 deaths in November. Since the tally for deaths overtook births in November 2019, the gap has widened, with the previous biggest gap of 4,778 posted in October.

The births tally in November 2020 contrasts with 34,847, posted five years earlier in November 2015 and 43,912, a decade earlier in November 2010.

A noteworthy point is that deaths outnumbered births for 12 of the recent 13 months since November 2019, excepting for only September 2020, which is an unprecedented case.

This has been a determining factor for the nation’s shrinking demographics, which began in December 2019.

On a cumulative basis between November 2019 and November 2020, deaths outstripped births by 28,936 (331,614 vs. 302,678).

This has led to a fall in population of 16,043, with citizenship changes -- Koreans renouncing their citizenship and those acquiring Korean citizenship – somewhat offsetting the effect of births and deaths.

Nevertheless, the offset has failed to block the population from facing downhill since December 2019. Though the demographic figures rebounded in July (by 444), August (by 101) and September (by 1,833), mostly affected by immigrants, the population decreased by 17,125 collectively between Dec. 1, 2019 and Nov. 30, 2020.

The demographic structure represents the seriousness -- the number of people aged under 10 (3.98 million) posted less than 50 percent of the tallies for those in their 40s (8.3 million) and those in their 50s (8.65 million) as of last month.

The tally for youngest age bracket also stood at less than 60 percent of the number of those in their 60s (6.7 million) or those in their 30s (6.88 million). Those aged between 0-9 made up only 7.6 percent of the population, 51.83 million.

Data held by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development showed that South Korea far fell behind the average of its 37 members or some nonmembers in fertility rates, with the country already having been ranked bottom in the world.

In 2019, Korea posted 0.9 in fertility rate -- the total number of children that would be born to each woman if she were to live to the end of her child-bearing years.

Of the 37 members, six involving Korea have publicized the 2019 figures: 1.8 posted in France, 1.8 in New Zealand, 1.7 in Denmark, 1.7 in Sweden and 1.5 in Norway.

In 2018, the average of OECD and European Union reached 1.6 and 1.5, respectively in the rates, while that of Korea stayed at 1.0. Israel posted 3.1, Mexico with 2.1. Turkey with 2.0, Colombia with 1.8, the US with 1.7 and the UK with 1.7.

Among nonmembers, compared, South Africa recorded 2.4, Argentina at 2.3, Indonesia at 2.3, Peru at 2.3 Saudi Arabia at 2.3, India at 2.2, Romania at 1.8, Brazil at 1.7 and China at 1.7.

By Kim Yon-se (