Year of Dragon expected to set birthrate soaring

The China Post news staff

The China Post news staff–The Ministry of the Interior (MOI) yesterday revised upward its projection for the number of newborns from 210,000 to 230,000 for this year, due mainly to local couples seeking to have their babies born in the traditionally favored Year of the Dragon, according to Hsieh Ai-ling, director of the Household Registration of the MOI.

Hsieh released the revised projection when delivering a report on the nation’s population changes and countermeasures at Cabinet’s weekly meeting.

In her report, Hsieh cited statistics as indicating that the number of newborns in the first quarter of the year increased by 7,000, or 17 percent, over the same period last year. Based on the growth rate, the number of childbirths for 2012 is expected to sharply surge by 20,000 from the ministry’s original projection of 210,000 to a high of 230,000, according to Hsieh.   The director said that local people usually want to have babies in the Year of the Dragon, as a children born in the year are considered auspicious and will have good luck. She also expressed hope that the annual number of newborns in Taiwan can reach 180,000 in the future. Hsieh stressed that Taiwan is facing two major challenges in formulating its future population policies, namely how to cope with the low birth rate as well as how to deal with the nation’s aging population. The MOI is considering whether to grant birth subsidies for children born out of wedlock as part of the government’s efforts to boost the birth rate.

At the Cabinet meeting, Taipei’s Deputy Mayor Ding Ting-yu said that the birth subsidy offered by the MOI differs from those offered by local county and city governments, and suggested that parents be allowed to simultaneously receive subsidies and allowances provided by both the central and local governments so as to effectively encourage childbirth.

Meanwhile, Pen Shih-wei, deputy minister of the Council of Labor Affairs, said that the government should consider subsidizing children born to single mothers or unmarried parents.

In response, Premier Sean Chen said that besides working hard to boost the birth rate, the government should also aim to make child rearing easier by offering better child care services. Chen instructed the Council of Labor Affairs to urge local enterprises to set up nursing facilities to encourage parents with careers or pursuing higher education to give birth to more children.