July 26, 2011 13:05
The number of newborn babies had risen for the 15th straight month in May, when their number stood at 39,100, up 5.7 percent year-on-year, Statistics Korea said Monday.
Their number fell in the 24 months since March 2008 but started rising in March last year. The total number of babies born between January and May this year was 208,800, up 12,900 on-year. It was also more than the 203,900 babies born in the same period in 2008 before the global financial crisis struck.
It seems that there is a close correlation between economic conditions and the birthrate. In 2007, when the economy grew 5.1 percent, 493,200 babies were born, up 10 percent on-year. But the number of newborns dropped when the growth rate fell to 2.3 percent due to the global financial crisis and in 2009 when the growth rate plummeted to 0.3 percent. Some 465,900 babies were born in 2008 and 444,800 in 2009.
But last year when the economy grew 6.2 percent, 469,900 babies were born, up 5.6 percent on-year.
Another reason for the increased birthrate is that those born to the baby-boom generation between 1979 and 1983 started reaching marriageable age.
"We presume that a considerable number of couples who married last year belong to this second generation of baby-boomers," Statistics Korea said. "It seems that couples who put off childbirth during the economic recession started having babies last year."
Although the number of newborns is increasing, Korea still ranks at the bottom of the world in terms of the fertility rate.
According to the OECD, Korea finished lowest among the 34 OECD member states at 1.15 children in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 1.74. Experts believe the current upward trend will not last long.
Prof. Cho Young-tae of Seoul National University said, "There'll be a lull two to three years after people who have postponed childbirth give birth to babies all at once. In fact, many people are giving birth to babies now. But a lull can set in soon."
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