What Does South Korea’s Total Fertility Rate of 0.72 Births Mean?

What Is Total Fertility Rate (TFR)?

The total fertility rate is an internationally recognized population indicator, referring to the average number of births expected per woman over her lifetime. It provides insight into the demographic structure of a country.

South Korea’s TFR Last Year : 0.72

South Korea‘s total fertility rate of 0.72 means that, statistically speaking, for every two people who get married, they have 0.72 children. Consequently, the population of the children’s generation is about one-third smaller than that of the parents’ generation.

South Korea’s TFR In The Fourth Quarter Of Last Year : 0.65 (October-December 2023)

South Korea’s total fertility rate was 0.65 in the fourth quarter of last year, down 0.05 from a year earlier. In 2024, the total fertility rate is projected to be 0.68, a decrease of 0.04 from the previous year.

What Happens When The Number Of Births Drops By A Third In A Single Generation?

1. Problems in education

Last year, the number of enrollments in universities nationwide was 306,180. If you include vocational colleges (149,960) and colleges of education (3,583), the total number is even higher. This number is sufficient for accommodating all the children born this year in universities. Therefore, the nation needs to discuss how to address the issue of school closures.

2. National Pension

The ultra-low birth rate is causing problems for the national pension system. Based on demographics alone, by 2042, there will be more recipients of the national pension than mandatory contributors. With an increasing number of recipients, the national pension fund will go into deficit and may soon be depleted.

3. Military Service

This is another problem to ponder in an era of ultra-low birth rates. The decline in the number of people serving in the military will have a major impact on national defense, especially with tensions intensifying with North Korea. Therefore, a review of defense policy may be inevitable.

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