South Korea saw more deaths than births in May.
Statistics Korea stated Wednesday that there were 22,52 births in May, down three.five percent from the previous year.
It marked the lowest figure for any May since relevant data was first compiled 40 years ago, and also marks the 66th consecutive month of on-year decline.
Meanwhile, the number of deaths increased by five percent, causing a decline in population for the 19th consecutive month.
"There are some factors dragging down fertility rates. The number of women aged 25 to 39 has decreased largely due to government-led family planning in the past. And… the continuous decline in the number of marriages since 2012 has also taken its toll on the birth rate, because, in Korea, most births in Korea occur following marriage."
In fact, the number of marriages in May dropped by 11 percent on-year to 16-thousand one hundred 53.
On a yearly basis, the number of marriages has been on a continuous decline since 2012.
Experts say that declining birth rates could pose a threat to South Korea's economy, mainly because…at least for now… the productivity growth rate is not good enough to cover the loss from labor growth… due to a shrinking population.
"We see population growth… meaning an increase in labor population and the productivity growth rate as major drivers for economic expansion. When the labor growth rate becomes negative, then the economic growth rate is highly likely to decrease… unless productivity efficiency is high enough to cover manpower loss.
South Korea's technological advances have improved a lot, but not as much as other advanced economies. Legal and regulatory problems also exist. South Korea's productivity level is not high enough, this is the problem."
The expert added that since a growth in productivity level can replace a loss in working age population, measures are needed to address the issue, and the government could also consider accepting a greater number of immigrant workers to boost Korea's workforce.
Seo Eunkyung, Arirang News.