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child whose shadow is an adult (Photo: Shutterstock)

(Bloomberg Markets) –They’re called the Sampo Generation: South Koreans in their 20s and 30s who’ve given up (po) three (sam) of life’s conventional rites of passage—dating, marrying, and having children. They’ve made these choices because of economic constraints and in the process have worsened Korea’s demographic imbalances. Last year, when the country registered more deaths than births for the first time in recent history, then-Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom pronounced the milestone a “death cross.”

The typical age of a new mother in South Korea is 32, according to the National Statistical Office. The number of births per woman sank to a record low of 0.84 last year, the lowest rate in the world; in Seoul the rate is 0.64. The United Nations estimates that by 2050, Korea’s share of elderly people will become the largest of any country.

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