TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) — As of 2019, Taiwan has the lowest birth rate out of 200 countries at a startling rate of 1,218 children per woman according to World Population Review. The government has since refuted this statistic. Nonetheless, it is not too soon to say Taiwan is facing a population growth crisis.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of the Interior reported 181,000 births — the lowest number since 2010. The current group with the highest birth rate is women ages 30-34. Not surprisingly, marriages have also decreased. There were 135,222 marriages last year, 2,298 less than in 2017.
Beyond numbers | Taiwan is known for its gender equality and sees an increase in women pursuing higher education. Incorporate these factors together and the result is a shift from the long-standing mindset that sons are more valued than daughters. Parents equally invest in their children’s education.
Thus, more women are joining the workforce and remaining unmarried. Several associations have been made between the decline of childbirth with delayed marriages.
Taiwan may soon be unable to sustain population growth. Younger generations who are preoccupied with thriving in the workplace and in school may think it is a trivial matter. In the long term, Taiwan has a population of aging individuals and eventually there will not be enough people to look after them. A lack of population growth could also hinder economic progress and labor force expansion.
Offering parents incentives | One solution is to offer incentives to parents. The government gives subsidies to parents, but this varies by county. Some counties give the same amount regardless of how many children the family has, while other counties only give subsidies to low- or middle-income households. The parents must apply for child support.
Mothers are allowed a total of eight weeks of maternity leave before and after childbirth. This is in accordance to Article 50 of the Labor Standards Act. A newborn is still learning to recognize their parents’ faces and beginning to smile during their first one to two months. It is important for babies to bond with their parents and Taiwan’s current maternity leave may not be enough. The act also fails to mention the spouse of the mother and how much time they are allowed off.
Taiwan’s future | The prime time to address these matters is during the upcoming elections. Rallies in Taiwan centering around international affairs and have taken most of the media’s attention. It is easy to forget the issues that impact the general population. Moving into Taiwan’s primaries, citizens need to keep in mind which questions they’ll need to ask their politicians. ●
By Amelia Chea, special to The China Post
2020 Presidential Election highlights various issues in Taiwan’s politics, economy, society and more that we hope would be addressed by candidates on the election trail.