November 29, 2022 09:34
Korea's low birthrate has worsened due to the coronavirus pandemic. Marriages have declined 20 percent over the three years since COVID-19 first broke out, resulting in the plummeting number of childbirths.
According to Statistics Korea, the number of marriages fell from 173,399 in 2019 to roughly 138,000 in the first three quarters of this year. In the same period of 2020, the year the pandemic started, it stood at 156,713, but fell to 140,455 the following year.
Divorces by contrast were flat at just over 100,000 a year.
The sharp decline in marriages translated into a drop in childbirths. Korea's total fertility rate, or the number of children every woman aged 15 to 49 gives birth to, fell from 0.92 in 2019 to 0.81 in 2021 and is expected to have dropped even further this year.
Women suffered a bigger impact than men from the pandemic in terms of unemployment and depression, which could reduce the birthrate even further.
According to an advisory panel to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Monday, the number of applicants for unemployment benefits surged in the pandemic, and women have outnumbered men since 2020.
The KDCA said the trend appears to be "related to childcare." In other words, school closures in lockdown forced more mothers to quit their jobs and tend to their kids.
There has also been a marked increase in people seeking help for depression, especially among women. Lee Sam-sik at Hanyang University said, "An increasing preference these days for both spouses earning incomes could result in fewer women opting to get married if they have to give up their jobs when problems with childcare arise. And many married couples who both earn money are reluctant to have kids if that leads to a drop in income or to mental stress."
- Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com