20 fewer children born in September compared to the same month last year… “An increase in parents born in the 1990s, as an opportunity to rebound”

In the third quarter of last year, the total fertility rate (the number of children expected to be born by a woman of childbearing age) fell below 0.8, the lowest ever. The number of births in September was also the lowest compared to the same month. However, the decline has slowed, with the number of births in September only decreasing by 20 compared to the same month last year. In the early and mid-1990s, the number of annual births increased to 700,000, and attention is focusing on whether this is an effect as they enter the birthing age in earnest. Experts pointed out that the increasing number of parents born in the 1990s should be used as an opportunity to reverse the birth rate, and that the government should promptly initiate structural reforms in various fields, including labor.

According to the ‘September Population Trend’ announced by the National Statistical Office on the 23rd, the number of births in the third quarter of this year was 64,085, a decrease of 2,466 (-3.7%) from the same period last year. The cumulative number of births through the third quarter of this year also stood at 192,223, falling below 200,000. The total fertility rate in the third quarter was 0.79, down 0.03 from a year earlier. This is the lowest figure in the third quarter since 2009, when quarterly total fertility statistics began to be compiled. Considering that the number of births usually decreases toward the end of the year, the possibility that this year’s total fertility rate will record a record of 0.7 is even greater.

Segye Ilbo data photo.

The number of births in September was 21,885, the lowest ever for the same month. The year-on-year decline continued for 82 consecutive months from December 2015. However, the decline slowed down, with only 20 (-0.1%) fewer than the same month last year. It is the first time in 10 years and 6 months since March 2012 (-51) that the number of births fell by double digits.

Analysts say that the increase in the number of births in the early and mid-1990s may have had an impact on this. According to the National Statistical Office, from 1987 to 1990, the annual average number of births was 636,523, but from 1991 to 1995, it increased to an annual average of 718,396. Also, the total fertility ratio, which means the number of boys per 100 girls, improved from 116.5 in 1990 to 113.2 in 1995.

Jeon Yeong-soo, a professor at the Graduate School of International Studies at Hanyang University, said, “People born in the 1990s are actually the generation of baby boomers, and as they fall under the second phase of the population policy, the volume itself has increased, such as the release of the birth control policy.” An official from the National Statistical Office said, “It is possible that the fact that those born in the 1990s, when the gender imbalance was eased, entered the maternity age has had an impact,” but “since it is still at an all-time low monthly, it remains to be seen whether the low birth rate is easing.” said.

Experts unanimously agreed that massive structural reforms are needed to prevent the generation born in the 1990s and later from avoiding childbirth due to economic problems. Professor Jeon Young-soo said, “Since now, with some signs of a rebound, is a very important timing, we need to give a clear signal to reduce the uncertainty associated with marriage and childbirth for those born in the 1990s.” We need to come up with a set of comprehensive and long-term plans, such as related work-life balance (balance between work and life) and socialization of care.” Choi Young, a professor of social welfare at Chung-Ang University, said, “From the perspective of parents, if the working hours are too long and sufficient wages are not secured, there is no choice but to be reluctant to give birth.” Structural reforms need to be undertaken in a way that guarantees adequate wages for the majority of workers,” he said.

On the other hand, Na Gyeong-won, vice chairman of the Low Birth Rate and Aging Society Committee, said on the same day, “Unlike the existing measures that have been promoted at the welfare level, we will come up with proper countermeasures for the low birth rate at a comprehensive level throughout the life cycle, such as housing and jobs.” At the same time as strengthening it, we will carefully review sensitive issues such as immigration and employment extension for the elderly to plan a future population strategy that can turn a crisis into an opportunity.”

Reporters Lee Hee-kyung, Lee Kang-jin, and Lee Hyun-mi

[ⓒ 세계일보 & Segye.com, 무단전재 및 재배포 금지]

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