South Korea has set a fresh record for the world’s lowest fertility rate as the impact of the nation’s aging demographics looms large for its medical system, social welfare provision and economic growth.

The number of babies expected per woman in a lifetime fell to 0.72 last year from 0.78 in 2022, according to data released Wednesday by South Korea’s national statistics office. The number of births also slid by 7.7% to 230,000, setting a new low for comparable data in a nation of about 50 million people.

The lack of babies is speeding up the aging of South Korean society, generating concerns about the growing fiscal burden of public pensions and health care.