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Solving the birth rate problem will take more than money

Today, May 15, is World Family Day (國際家庭日), an opportunity to promote the importance of families, foster a fuller sharing of domestic responsibilities between spouses and equal employment opportunities between men and women.

Although Taiwan is traditionally a family-oriented society, later marriages, higher divorce rates (the highest in Asia) and lower birth rates (one of the lowest in the world) now pose a threat to the concept of family, and beyond that to the island's job market and economy; two very sound reasons to support new policy initiatives that could lead to better financial support for families.

These trends have long been prevalent in most developing countries, but in Taiwan's case, as pointed out by Dr. Hsueh Cherng-tay (薛承泰), Minister Without Portfolio, Executive Yuan, our ageing society and decreasing birthrate are of so much concern because of the speed of such changes.

Speaking at a recent event organized by the European Chamber of Commerce (歐洲商務協會), Hsueh remarked that it took Taiwan only 30 years to go from a high to low rate of population growth. Back in the early 1950s, Taiwan's fertility rate peaked at 7.04 births per woman. Today, the birthrate has declined to just 0.9 percent, making it one of the lowest in the world.

At the same time, Taiwan's society is expected to go from aging (with 7 percent of the population over 65) to aged (with 14 percent of the population over 65) in just 25 years, down from 115 years in France and 73 years in the United States.

Taiwan's demographic woes are the result of a higher number of people in Taiwan getting married at an older age, or not getting married at all. According to Hsueh, more than 40 percent of Taiwanese women aged between 30 and 35 are unmarried. A soaring number of couples won't have any children either, and the average family size has now shrunk to just three people.

Combined with Taiwan's higher standard of living, health care system, education standards and divorce rate, a growing number of young people have deferred marriage and children. Recall that Taiwan's higher education enrollment rates are among the highest in the world, with the enrollment rate for female students now significantly higher than their male counterparts.

May 16, 2011    wildben@
This is not a cause for concern, but rather a blessing. If the focus on population were not just linked to prospective economy, but also linked to the use of resources, global population, stress, population density, the increasing years in life expectancy, etc., then the article would have some credibility.

This is a common governmental theme for nations with lower birthrates, and one the media world-over loves to repeat. It is an ill informed conjecture that countries need an expanding growth to succeed. And one that need end as the world struggles with resources and poverty.
May 17, 2011    ludahai_twn@
Wildben -- the key isn't expanding growth, but STABLE population. If there are too many unproductive elderly people and not enough productive younger people to support them, this will cause a serious erosion in the standard of living in the entire society. Taiwan's birthrate is WAY BELOW the replacement rate. Of the developed countries, the U.S. is one of the few whose birthrate is anyways near the replacement rate. As Taiwan, Japan and many European countries age, providing for the elderly will become an increasing societal challenge.
April 1, 2012    jonathanparis1988@
wildben@ wrote:
This is not a cause for concern, but rather a blessing. If the focus on population were not just linked to prospective economy, but also linked to the use of resources, global population, stress, population density, the increasing years in life expectancy, etc., then the article would have some credibility.

This is a common governmental theme for nations with lower birthrates, and one the media world-over loves to repeat. It is an ill informed conjecture that countries need an expanding growth to succeed. And one that need end as the world struggles with resources and poverty.
You're totally wrong. While Taiwan, Japan, Italy and other countries that contribute and give to the world decline in population and birth rates, the "worthless" countries in Africa and the Middle East continue to rise in populations. Taiwan, Japan, Italy and other "declining" countries must survive.

Will Angola produce your high quality computers?

Will Zaire produce excellent wine?

Will Syria (in a civil war currently) produce your cars?
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