South Korea’s crude marriage rate has fallen to a record low, according to data released by the national statistics office. The number of marriages per 1,000 people slid to 3.7 from 3.8 in 2021, with 191,700 marriages taking place in 2022, down 0.4% from the previous year. This trend could indicate a further decline in the country’s already dismal fertility rate, which is the lowest in the world.
Matrimony and fertility are closely linked in South Korea, where births outside marriage remain rare. Low fertility rates threaten to undermine the country’s productivity by shrinking its workforce and slowing consumption. In response, the government has introduced measures to encourage more births, including tripling monthly allowances for parents.
Various factors are blamed for South Koreans’ reluctance to marry, including the high costs of housing and the difficulties of raising a child. Gender tensions are also regularly highlighted as a reason for the decline in marriages.
Professor Kim Sang-hyun of Sungkyunkwan University said, “The continued decline in the marriage rate in Korea is a serious concern. It reflects the underlying social and economic issues facing the country. The government needs to focus on addressing the root causes of these issues and provide meaningful support to encourage more marriages and births.”
The situation in South Korea highlights the challenges faced by countries with aging populations and low birth rates. Governments must address these issues to ensure the long-term sustainability of their economies and societies.