S.Korea's childbirth posts double-digit fall in March

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SEOUL, May 27 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's childbirth posted a double-digit fall in March, fueling worry about a so-called demographic cliff, statistical office data showed Wednesday.

The number of newborn babies was 24,378 in March, down 10.1 percent from a year earlier, according to Statistics Korea. It was the lowest March figure since data began to be compiled in 1981.

During the January-March quarter, the childbirth was 74,050. It was down 11.0 percent from a year earlier.

The total fertility rate, which measures the number of babies a woman is forecast to bear during lifetime, was 0.90 in the first quarter, down 0.12 from a year earlier.

The total fertility rate of 2.1 is required to keep the country's total population at a current level.

The continued slide in newborns came amid the rising social trend of delayed marriage and the falling number of women who are of childbearing age.

The number of marriages fell 1.0 percent from a year earlier to 19,359 in March, and the number of divorces dipped 19.5 percent to 1,773.

The falling childbirth stoked concerns about the demographic cliff, which refers to a sudden drop in the heads of household eventually leading to a consumption cliff.

The low birth rate has been a headache for the economy as it leads to the lower workforce amid the rapidly-aging population, which could drag down the country's growth potential.

The number of deaths grew 3.6 percent over the year to 25,879 in March, posting the highest in five years.

Because of the reduced childbirth and the increased death, the country's population slipped for the fifth consecutive month. Enditem

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