A spectator holds her baby as she waits for the start of the men's 10km sprint biathlon event during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on Feb 11, 2018, in Pyeongchang. (FRANCK FIFE / AFP)
SEOUL — South Korea's fertility rate hit the lowest third-quarter figure as young people refrained from getting married and having children, statistical office data showed Wednesday.
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The total fertility rate, which gauges the average number of babies that a woman is expected to have during lifetime, fell 0.03 from a year earlier to 0.79 in the July-September quarter, according to Statistics Korea.
The number of marriages rose 2.8 percent over the year to 45,413 in the third quarter
It was the lowest third-quarter reading since relevant data began to be compiled in 2009.
The record-low fertility rate came as the younger generation delayed marriage and having children amid the higher cost to rear children, stubborn youth unemployment and soaring housing prices.
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The number of newborn babies was 64,085 in the third quarter, down 3.7 percent from a year earlier.
For the first nine months of this year, the number of childbirths came in at 192,223, down 5.2 percent compared to the same period of last year.
The number of marriages rose 2.8 percent over the year to 45,413 in the third quarter amid alleviated measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of divorces reduced 4.5 percent to 23,926 in the cited quarter.
The number of deaths stood at 85,229 in the third quarter, up 10.2 percent from a year earlier. It marked the highest third-quarter figure amid the continued pandemic and the aging population.