South Korea: Fertility Rate Drops to Record Low

    Photo: Reuters

    The Facts

    • South Korea’s fertility rate, the lowest in the world for years, has reached an all-time low as the country’s statistics office released data on Wednesday showing the expected number of babies per woman fell to 0.78 in 2022.

    • This is a drop from 0.81 in 2021, which was the lowest among more than 260 nations tracked by the world bank. South Korea saw the number of newborns decline from 260.6k to 249k in 2022, while the number of deaths, 373k, exceeded births by 124k.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    South Korea is on the verge of a demographic crisis that will bring an economic crisis along with it. The population pyramid is completely distorted, and the shrinking number of young people won't be able to support the ballooning number of retirees in the coming decades. In addition to the population reducing dramatically, the key number of workers will decrease even more, leading to financial ruin.

    Narrative B

    Low fertility isn't a bad thing, and in fact, it can be a key component of an alternative economic and social development system. South Korea adopted a plan in the 1960s to reduce population growth, and the measures proved wildly successful in the subsequent decades. Reduced population can lead to innovative ways to order society, all while protecting our environment, which is in grave danger.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 50% chance that South Korea's fertility rate will be at least 0.891 in 2032, according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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