South Korea recorded more deaths than births in the year 2020, for the first time raising alarm as the nation already has the world’s lowest birth rate.
Only 275,800 babies were born last year, down 10% from 2019. Around 307,764 people died.
The figures prompted the interior ministry to call for “fundamental changes” to its policies.
A declining population puts immense strain on a country.
Apart from increased pressure on public spending as demand for healthcare systems and pensions rise, a declining youth population also leads to labour shortages that have a direct impact on the economy.
Last month, President Moon Jae-in launched several policies aimed at addressing the low birth rate, including cash incentives for families.
Under the scheme, from 2022, every child born will receive a cash bonus of 2 million won ($1,850) to help cover prenatal expenses, on top of a monthly payout of 300,000 won handed out until the baby turns one. The incentive will increase to 500,000 won every month from 2025.