A growing number of married couples in Korea are opting to have no children as the cost of raising them continues to soar.
Statistics Korea on Monday said nine percent of women who tied the knot between 2005 and 2009 have decided not to have children. The proportion has risen from just two percent of those who married between 1980 and 1984.
The number of children women now have is also dwindling, with the number of expected children (existing plus planned) among women who got married between 2005 and 2009 at just 1.91. For women who married between 1950 and 1954, the number of expected children was 4.49. That means there will be fewer than 2.1 children born per couple, the minimum number of children necessary to maintain population growth.
But in reality, the birthrate among women of childbearing age barely stands at one child.
The time it takes a married couple between their first and last child has shrunk from 11.4 years between 1950 to 1954 to just 3.2 years between 2005 and 2009. This is mainly because couples have their first child at a later age and then decide to have no more than two.
The number of families with many children has plummeted. Between 1970 and 1974 more than half of married women had more than three children. But the rate plunged to just 0.9 percent between 2010 and 2015.
Yet the time it takes for a married woman to have her first child is declining. Women who married between 1975 and 1979 had their first child 1.5 years afterwards. But the gap decreased to 1.26 years for those who married between 2010 and 2015.
A Statistics Korea official said, "As women get married later in their lives, couples are opting to have children sooner after getting married."