South Korea only had 18,988 births in May, 2023 which is the lowest births since the agency started compiling the data in 1981. This was a drop of over 5% from May 2022. The number of deaths in the country moved up 0.2 percent over the period to 28,958, resulting in a natural decrease in population by 9,970. South Korea is losing about 120,000 people per year and the total birth is about 230,000 per year which is down from 705,000 from 1990 to 1994 and 669,000 from 1995 to 1999. However, after the 1997-98 Asian Economic Crisis, the number plummeted to an average of 500,000 in the early 2000s.
Korea’s fertility rate dropped to a new low of 0.78, the lowest among countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and possibly the world.
Korea would need to triple its annual births to 700,000 per year to maintain and stabilize its population.
Statistics Korea expected people aged 65 and above will take up 20 percent of the population in 2025, marking a sharp rise from 18.4 percent estimated for this year.
The Korean government sees the next five years as critical to increasing fertility and salvaging the country.
Korea’s government is considering easing the burden of gift taxes exclusively for newlywed couples, by raising the minimum amount of cash they can receive from parents without being taxed to either 100 million won ($76,000) or 150 million won.
Several municipalities have also introduced similar programs. Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, held two couple matchmaking events in July for unmarried men and women who either live or work in the region. As a result, 39 couples found a match.
Guri City in Gyeonggi Province has launched a dating show on YouTube hosted by the city’s mayor.
Donghae, Gangwon Province, recently decided to pay up to 3 million won to pregnant women. Yeongwol, Gangwon Province, pays 1 million won for giving birth to a first child, 3 million won for giving birth to a second child, and 10 million won for giving birth to a third child.
Japan and China’s Population Crisis
The number of new births in China have been falling for decades, and last year deaths outnumbered births for the first time in six decades, with the overall population falling by 850,000 to 1.4118 billion. Last year, Chinese mothers gave birth to just 9.56 million babies, representing the lowest total in modern history and the first time the figure had dipped below 10 million.
China could start losing 10 million people per year in the 2030s.
Chinese governments have been rolling out various measures to boost births, including financial and housing support and more parental leave, but actual results have been inconspicuous.
In addition to a more comprehensive and affordable childcare system, inclusion of assisted reproductive technologies in medical insurance, better publicity of the three-child policy, more policies should be reinforced, including financial support for grandparents who take on childcare responsibilities.
Japan is the world’s first “hyper-aged” country, where at least 21 percent of the population is older than 65, with projections predicting 40 percent of the population will be over retirement age by 2050.
Japan’s government failed to head off the population crisis despite Japanese demographers forecasting a crunch since the late 1970s. This is a warning for the rest of East Asia and the world. As of 2023, Japan’s fertility rate was 1.367, far below the 2.1 children per women replacement level necessary for population stability. South Korea suffers from the lowest fertility rate at 0.78, but Taiwan about 1.0, China at 1.18.
Poland, Spain and Italy all have shrinking populations.
In July 2023, Poland’s statistical office said Poland’s population has shrunk again to just under 37.7 million in June, 2023 despite returning emigrants. There were around 130,000 Poles compared to June 2022. South Korea and Poland are both dropping at similar rates.
In 2010, Poland’s population was over 38.5 million. The population is falling despite a policy of bonuses for families with many children that the right-wing government launched after taking office at the end of 2015.
China’s population is falling as of 2022 and this updated information is not shown on some population tables.
The big shockers are that India and Bangladesh have fallen below replacement despite being poor and highly populous countries.
According to India’s most recent census data, India’s population stood at 1.03 billion in 2001 and 1.21 billion in 2011. The UN’s 2022 World Population Prospects (WPP) report, however, put these figures at 1.08 billion and 1.26 billion, respectively. Moreover, India’s National Family Health Survey indicated a fertility rate of 1.99 in 2017-19, in contrast to the WPP’s estimate of 2.16.
From 2011 to 2021, India’s infant mortality rate fell from 44 deaths per 1,000 live births to 27. The secondary-education gross enrollment rate rose from 66% to 78%, and the mean years of schooling among adults aged 20 and older increased from 5.8 to 7.2 years. The contraceptive prevalence rate rose sharply from 54% in 2013-15 to 67% in 2017-19. Consequently, India’s fertility rate may be as low as 1.6-1.7 in 2024, with its population ranging between 1.37 to 1.39 billion, compared to the 1.44 billion projected by the UN.
The UN could be overestimating the 2024 population of India by the entire population of France. 50 to 70 million people overestimated.
The WPP projects that India’s fertility rate will bounce back to 1.78 in 2050 before declining to 1.69 by 2100. But in countries such as Singapore and Malaysia, the fertility rates of Indian populations are barely higher than those of Chinese communities.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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