It's the first time in the country's history.
The year 2020 marks the first time that South Korea recorded more deaths than it did new births.
That has officials concerned about the long-term implications of a declining population, the BBC reports. Soon, they say the government will make “fundamental changes” to prevent the population decline from getting any steeper.
The population drop wasn’t massive. The tally of 307,764 deaths compared to 275,800 births represents a loss of just 31,874 people — small compared to the country’s population of 51.3 million — but that’s still 10 percent fewer births than in 2019.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced new cash incentives to support new parents last month, according to the BBC. Starting in 2022, the families of each newborn will be given 2 million won (about $1,850) to help cover prenatal care on top of about 300,000 won (about $275) each month until the baby’s first birthday.
If the incentives don’t work and the downward trend continues, South Korea could someday face similar issues to Japan, which has struggled in recent years to replace its aging workforce.
But cash for medical care may not be enough, according to the BBC, as unaffordable real estate and the lack of work-life balance seem to be major, unaddressed factors in young families’ decisions to not have kids.
READ MORE: Alarm as South Korea sees more deaths than births [BBC]
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