Late Childbearing and Changing Risks of Adverse Birth Outcomes in Korea
Youngtae Cho, Seoul National University
Robert A. Hummer, University of Texas at Austin
Sung Won Jung, Korea University
The total fertility rate has plummeted from 1.65 in 1995, to 1.08 in 2005, in Korea. This very low fertility, mainly caused by delayed childbearing, has generated a national concern on degrading quality of population, since maternal old age has known to be one of the critical risk factors of adverse birth outcomes from a biological perspective. However, given the facts that late marriage and childbearing are mainly caused by social factors (e.g., economic crisis and increased female labor force participation) and that their social meanings have dramatically changed for the past decade, late childbearing should be examined from a social perspective. As delayed childbearing is considered normal, it may not as strong a determinant of adverse birth outcomes as it used to be. This study examines the changing magnitude of demographic and social risk factors on adverse birth outcomes in Korea during the period of lowest-low fertility.