SEOUL, Nov. 24 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's childbirth hit a record quarterly low in the third quarter, boosting concerns about a so-called demographic cliff, statistical office data showed Wednesday.
The number of newborn babies stood at 66,563 in the July-September quarter, down 3.4 percent from a year earlier, according to Statistics Korea.
It was the lowest quarterly reading since data began to be compiled in 1981. For the first nine months of this year, the number of childbirths came to 203,480, down 3.5 percent compared to the same period of last year.
The newborns have been on the decline amid the social trend of delayed marriage and the lower number of women who are of childbearing age.
The total fertility rate, which gauges the average number of babies which a woman is expected to have during her lifetime, reached the lowest third-quarter figure at 0.82, down 0.02 from a year earlier.
The rate hovered below 1 this year, with 0.88 in the first quarter and 0.82 in the second quarter respectively.
The number of marriages shrank 6.8 percent over the year to 44,192 in the third quarter, and the number of divorces diminished 9.8 percent to 25,048.
The number of newborns was 21,920 in September, down 6.7 percent from a year earlier. The number continued to slide for 70 straight months since December 2015.
The low birth rate boosted concerns about the demographic cliff, which refers to a drop in the heads of households eventually leading to a consumption cliff.
The number of deaths increased 5 percent from a year earlier to 25,566 in September.
Given the death growth and the childbirth fall, the country's population kept skidding for 23 months in a row since November 2019.