Childbirths decline for 3rd straight month in March

SEJONG, May 27 (Yonhap) -- Childbirths in South Korea fell for the third straight month in March amid worries over the country's chronically low birthrate, a report showed Monday.

According to the report by Statistics Korea, the number of babies born in March came to about 38,800, down 10.2 percent or 4,400 from the same month a year earlier. The decline followed 0.4 percent and 9.1 percent falls in January and February.

The latest childbirth report comes as South Korea is pushing to raise its chronically low birthrate, which is feared to shrink the overall working population, increase welfare expenses and undercut the country's growth potential.

The decline is attributable in part to a trend that many people are delaying marriage and putting off having children.

In 2012, the number of marriages fell 0.6 percent from a year earlier, a turnaround from a 0.9 percent rise in 2011.

The number of marriages also continued to drop in March.

The report showed that the number of couples getting married in March stood at 23,600, down 16 percent, or 4,500 from a year earlier, marking the fifth straight month of declines.

The figure also represented the lowest level in the month of March since 2004.

Meanwhile, the number of deaths totaled 24,200 in March, up 0.4 percent from a year earlier. Divorces fell 10.5 percent on-year to 8,500, the report showed.

In a separate report, the agency said that the number of people changing their official residence in April inched down 0.2 percent on-year to 630,000.

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