South Korea again this year has the lowest birthrate in the world.
According to a report Wednesday by the United Nations Population Fund, the average number of children a South Korean woman is projected to have in her lifetime is one.one.
That's the lowest rate among the 198 countries surveyed this year and last year but it's down six spots from 2019.
An expert attributed much of South Korea's low birth rate to gender inequality.
"In South Korea, there's a high cost not only to marriage and raising a child, but it's also very difficult for women to handle childcare while they are working. This is one of the reasons why women in this country choose not to have children."
On top of equality issues, she said other important factors are a tough job market in recent years, and soaring costs of housing and education.
"Raising the birth rate will require many things, including quality jobs, a national care system to enable women to stay in the workforce, and a system to eliminate gender discrimination at companies."
The UN report also said that people 65 and older now make up 16.six percent of the country's population, an increase from last year of zero.eight percent.
This is far higher than the global average of nine.six percent, ranking Korea 42nd in the world.
This demographic change also presents risks to the country's finances.
The IMF said on Tuesday that South Korea needs to shift its fiscal policy to a longer-term framework to prevent the aging of its population from causing a debt explosion.
According to the IMF Fiscal Monitor report released earlier this month, the country is currently able to keep up with the rise in debt caused by COVID-19, which is at 53.2 percent of GDP this year, but is expected to jump to 69.7 percent in 2026.
The Eurozone and Japan currently have similar debt levels, but theirs are expected to decrease.
Eum Ji-young Arirang News.