Statistics Korea announced on Sep. 2 that South Korea’s average total fertility rate in the period of 2015 to 2018 was 1.11, the lowest in the world. The total fertility rate means the number of children expected to be born per woman aged 15 to 49.
According to the United Nations, 201 countries’ average in the period of 2015 to 2020 is 2.47 and those of Taiwan, Macao, Singapore, Puerto Rico and Moldova are 1.15, 1.2, 1.21, 1.22 and 1.26, respectively. In that period, the average total fertility rates of Africa, Europe and Asia are 4.44, 1.61 and 2.15, respectively.
South Korea’s total fertility rate used to be close to the world average until 1974. Specifically, its average total fertility rate in the period of 1970 to 1974 was 4.21. In other words, it dropped by no less than 73.6 percent in about 40 years. According to the United Nations, the world average in the period of 1970 to 1975 was 4.47 and it decreased less than 45 percent in four and a half decades.
Back in the early 1970s, South Korea ranked 74th from the bottom among 201 countries in terms of total fertility rate. The country is now at the bottom and the downward trend is likely to continue in that its total fertility rate was 0.98 last year.
Meanwhile, South Koreans’ life expectancy at birth is increasing fast. It was 82.5 years in the period of 2015 to 2018 whereas the world average in 2015 to 2020 estimated by the United Nations is 72.3 years. According to U.N. data, Hong Kong (84.6 years) has the longest life expectancy in the world and South Korea’s life expectancy increased from 63.1 to 82.5 in approximately 40 years.