South Koreans ‘to become extinct by 2750’ due to dangerously low birth rate

Study warns that nation’s very existence threatened by aging population

South Koreans are on course to become extinct by the year 2750, making them potentially the first national population to disappear from the planet due to a critically low birth rate.

According to a projection carried out as part of a parliamentary study, the last survivor in the capital Seoul will be born in 2505, while the last South Korean anywhere will enter the world in 2621, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.

The southern port city of Busan, which has one of the most rapidly-aging populations in the country, will be the first to empty and see its last resident born in 2413, the study suggests.

In the shorter term, South Korea’s current population of 50 million was forecast to drop to 40 million by 2056 and to 20 million by 2100.

The research was commissioned by the liberal New Politics Alliance for Democracy party, and carried out by the National Assembly Research Service in Seoul.

It draws attention to the country’s fertility rate of 1.19 children born per woman recorded in 2013, far below that which would be required to sustain the population.

The rate is below that of China – despite its one-child policy – and Japan, where the Financial Times reports that the sales of nappies for old people are expected to soon sell more than those for babies.

The study follows on from the work of Oxford University population expert David Coleman, who said in 2006 that South Korea’s fertility rate threatened the existence of the nation.

In Japan, a similar study in 2012 projected that the last child would be born in 3011, the Telegraph reported.

The government in South Korea has put in place measures in recent years to try and combat the trend, thought to have been started by campaigns to restrict family size in the 1980s.

One of the most prohibitive influences making parents stop at just one child was the extremely high cost of private tuition, which has now been capped.

Cha Woo-gyu, a professor at the Korea National University of Education, told the FT that the parliamentary study’s predictions failed to account for such measures and instead that “the report’s purpose is to generate alarm”.

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