North Korean fertility rates are in free-fall and far below levels necessary to replace its aging population, South Korea’s central bank claims.
The Bank of Korea’s Economic Research Institute shared its data on Friday, claiming fertility rates in North Korea have dropped to as low as 1.38.
“The results show that North Korea’s total fertility rate was 1.91 in the 1990s, then dropped to 1.59 in the 2000s, and was at 1.38 in the 2010s,” the report claims.
It continues, “The 1.38 fertility rate in the 2010s not only confirms the downward trend in the fertility rate previously estimated by the UN, but is also consistent with North Korean defectors’ testimonies that most women born in 1970s and 1980s are only giving birth to one child.”
The Economic Research Institute acknowledged imperfect methodology in calculating the data, being forced to utilize testimonies and limited data available from escaped North Korean citizens.
“The reasons for the decline in the total fertility rate include the increase in late marriage among women in urban areas and the decline in fertility due to women’s increased participation in market activity,” the BOK reports.
“A country’s birthrate tends to fall when income levels rise. But even though North Korea is a low-income country, its total fertility rate [remains unusually] very low,” the report continues.
Earlier this month, North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un became tearful during a speech praising the nation’s mothers.
“The credit for the brilliant today of our country goes to our mothers who are ordinary and simple and the strongest before any difficulties and have become the genuine models of always devoting themselves unhesitatingly to the road of patriotism as well as the roots for bringing up a large number of heroes in all parts of the country,” the dictator said, according to a transcription of the remarks printed in Korean Central News Agency.
“All mothers should fulfill their responsibility and duty assumed before society and families with confidence in and optimism about the prospects of our socialist construction and a changed ideal society to come in the near future,” Kim Jon Un said in the speech. “They have [a] heavy mission to bring up their children to be pillars of socialist and communist construction and masters of future society.”
North Korea — officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea — operates under the state ideology of juche, a communist worldview founded on a cult of personality and enthusiastic nationalism.