SEOUL: The average life expectancy of South Korean babies born last year fell by about a year to reach 82.7 years, data showed Friday.

The average life expectancy at birth in 2022 was 0.9 year shorter than the previous year, Yonhap news agency reported according to the data compiled by Statistics Korea.

Compared with a decade ago, the figure was 1.9 years longer.

The life expectancy came to 62.3 years in 1970, when the agency began compiling related data. In 2009, the life expectancy hit 80 years for the first time.

Baby boys and girls born in 2022 are expected to live 79.9 years and 85.6 years, respectively.

The gender gap in life expectancy fell 0.2 year to come to 5.8 years, and the gap has fallen after reaching a peak of 8.6 years in 1985.

South Korea’s life expectancies for men and women were 1.9 years and 2.4 years longer, respectively, than the average of the 38 member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Of the OECD members, Switzerland topped the list in terms of the life expectancy among men with 81.6 years, and Japan saw the longest life expectancy for women of 87.6 years, the data showed.

South Korea is struggling with demographic challenges caused by rapid aging and a chronically low birthrate.

The total fertility rate, which shows the average number of expected babies a woman bears in her lifetime, fell to a record quarterly low of 0.7 in the third quarter of 2023.

Many young people opt to postpone or give up on getting married or having babies in line with changing social norms and lifestyles, as well as in the face of high home prices, a tough job market and an economic slowdown.

The country is widely expected to become a super-aged society in 2025, in which the proportion of those aged 65 and older will hit 20 per cent of the total population. The country became an aged society in 2017, as the proportion of such people exceeded 14 per cent.–Bernama-Yonhap

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