January 04, 2021 11:48
Korea's registered population declined for the first time last year, toppling over the so-called demographic cliff when the number of people who die surpasses the number of newborns.
The country's population declined by around 20,000 due to a persistently low birthrate.
The Ministry of the Interior and Safety said Sunday that Korea's population stood at 51.83 million last year, down by 20,838 from 2019. Childbirths dwindled an alarming 10.7 percent on-year in 2020 to a record-low 275,815, while 307,764 people died, up 3.1 percent.
The birthrate continues to plummet. Childbirths fell below 400,000 for the first time in 2017, and then it took only three years to sink below 300,000 -- a much faster rate than expected.
Statistics Korea forecast in 2016 that the country's population will not decline until 2029 because it projected that childbirths would fall to 260,000 in 2065, but they have already fallen to around 270,000.
The population is also aging fast. Last year, the number of people over 60 stood at 12.44 million or a whopping 24 percent of the total population, while only 16.9 percent were in their teens or younger.
That means the economically active population will decline over the long term while the number of elderly people they must support will keep growing.
Seo Seung-woo at the ministry said, "The explosive increase in one or two-person households and record low birthrate are telling us that changes are necessary throughout our society and economy. We need to set new policy directions in each sector."
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