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Mar 2, 2024

South Korea faces dark picture in demography

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Sandhya Shrestha
Image graph with courtesy statista
Image graph with courtesy statista

Birth rates ranging from 10 to 20 births per 1,000 are considered low, while rates from 40 to 50 births per 1,000 are considered high.

South Korea was one of only a few places in the world with a fertility rate below 1. The South Korean fertility rate in 2023 had fallen to just 0.72 births per woman from the 0.78 rate of 2022.

The rate at which a population replaces itself between generations without migration stands at around 2.1. The projections paint a darker picture of demographic trends for South Korea. Authorities forecast that the fertility rate would bottom out at 0.7 in 2024.

A report from South Korea’s Central Bank showed that the root causes behind the country’s declining fertility rate include challenges around employment, housing, and childcare.

Thus, South Korea is hoping to encourage couples to have children by allowing them to hire Southeast Asian domestic workers to support them with household chores and raising children.

Japan faces a 5 percent decline in births with the birth rate remaining at 1.26 percent which is a record low of 758,631 in 2023.

One of the key reasons behind the declining birth rate in Japan is a drop in married couples.

With this Japan is also listed among the approximately 90 countries in Europe, the Americas and Southeast Asia. in the world where populations are not growing independent of immigration.

Most of the countries losing fertility are better developed and reasons for the trend include greater access to contraception and more women being educated and heading to work.

In Sweden, the number of newborns last year reached a two-decade low. According to Swedish television reports that it is the lowest population growth since 2021.

The number of newborns in 2023 was the lowest since 2003, it reports. But the population at that time was also about 1.6 million less than today,’ Ann-Marie Persson, a population statistician at Statistics Sweden, said in a statement.

Singapore also recorded its lowest total fertility rate of 1.05 last year, However, it has eased rules allowing married women to freeze their eggs.

As per the reports, effective from July 1, women up to age 37 will be able to undergo egg-freezing, a liberalization from the current rules under which only women with particular medical conditions are considered eligible.

China recorded 1.09. Thus, Chinese health officials are pushing to legalize egg-freezing for single women, following the landmark case of a woman who sued a hospital that denied her request to freeze her eggs.

Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan have the lowest-low fertility, defined as TFR at or below 1.3, and are among the lowest in the world.

In Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, where population growth is also slowing, single women are allowed to freeze their eggs.

But doctors say it is also important to recognize that egg-freezing has its risks and does not “guarantee” anyone a child.

Dr. Kelly Loi, medical director at Singapore’s Mount Elizabeth Hospital Fertility Centre said: “There is no guarantee of success but having your eggs frozen early will allow a better chance of pregnancy if you do end up requiring fertility treatment at a later age when you are no longer so fertile.”


With a fertility rate of almost 7 children per woman, Sub-Saharan African nation Niger is the country with the highest fertility rate in the world with 6.8 children per woman. The total population of Niger is growing at a fast pace.

Followed by Somalia at 6.0, the Democratic Republic of Congo (5.8), Mali (5.8), and Chad (5.6).

South Asian nation Afghanistan with an average of 4.6 births per woman had the highest fertility rate throughout the Asia-Pacific region in 2021.

(The writer is a Staff Nurse works in a hospital in Kathmandu)