There are signs of the economic recession has prompted a falling birthrate. Academics theorize that young people are being forced to delay marriage as their job prospects become increasingly insecure while married young couples postpone having children.
Korea's birthrate stands at 1.2 babies per woman, second lowest in the world after Hong Kong. Many fear that severe economic difficulties will drop the rate to below 1.0, which means increasing number of childless couples.
According to recent monthly statistics released by the National Statistical Office, the number of marriage registrations in November 2008 was 27,000, down 19.6 percent from 33,600 in November 2007. The number of marriage cases registered in October 2008 was 6.5 percent less than a year ago.
Government officials and scholars predict that this year's birthrate will barely exceed 1.0, and will drop below that next year. The Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs recently released a report saying if the growth rate of GDP remains at around two percent, the birthrate will drop as low as 1.08 in 2010, and even lower than 1.0 if the economic growth rate continues falling.
Korea became a country with a very low total birthrate of under 1.30 in 2001. This rate has declined at the fastest pace in the world since then, posting 1.08 in 2005. In 2006 and 2007, the rate rose slightly to 1.13 and 1.26 respectively, as those years were considered auspicious for weddings and child birth respectively. However, the rate dropped back to 1.20 in 2008.