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Title Vol. 31 The Total Fertility Rate in 2020 and Its Policy Implications (English edition)

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• According to the Preliminary Results of Birth and Death Statistics in 2020 released by Statistics Korea, the total fertility rate (TFR) was 0.84 and the total number of births was 272,000, both reaching an all-time record low.
• Korea’s TFR is the lowest among those of OECD member countries and is declining at the fastest rate.
• There are three recently suggested causes of the persistent lowest-low fertility: demographic factors, socioeconomic factors, and changes in culture and values on marriage and childbirth.
• The TFR rebound is pivotal for the sustainable growth of South Korea. Other countries that have experienced low fertility rates but have successfully made a rebound will be good references.
• Many major OECD countries that experienced industrialization and aging society before Korea also saw a sudden drop in the TFR. However, since the 2000s, the rates are recovering.
• France, Sweden, and Germany all witnessed the recovery of their TFRs thanks to bold family and immigration policies based on embracing various forms of families and pursuing practical gender equality.
• If family policies focus more on reducing gender inequality, fewer young people will delay or avoid marriage and childbirth, which are the fundamental causes of the recent low fertility rates.

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