UNITED NEWS INTERNATIONAL (UNI) — South Korea’s birthrate is on track to hit a record low this year.
Officials estimate around 360,000 births, which would be the first time the number dropped below 400,000.
The country recorded 159,600 births in the first five months of this year, down more than 12 percent compared to the same period last year.
The figures, calculated by the country’s health ministry and statistics agency, were announced July 30.
Experts point to a spike in youth unemployment as a possible cause. Furthermore, they say the high cost of living is deterring couples from having children.
The government has taken steps to boost the birthrate in recent years, including broadening state subsidies for couples’ undergoing infertility treatment and increasing paternity leave.
The measures, however, have failed to bolster fertility in the country, which has plummeted in the past few decades.
South Korea’s demographic trends raise serious questions about its economic future. Less people translates into a smaller workforce.