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Minister expresses hope birthrate will

TAIPEI -- After the birthrate in Taiwan fell to a new low last year, the deputy interior minister expressed hope yesterday that a spike in marriage and birth rates this year can reverse the trend.

Taiwan's total fertility rate (TFR), the average number of children a woman will bear in her lifetime, dropped to 0.895 last year, marking the lowest rate of any country in the world on record, according to the Population Reference Bureau in Washington, D.C.

This year, there is a possibility that TFR will rise above 1.0, Deputy Minister Chien Tai-lang said, citing a 12.5 percent increase in the marriage rate from last year and monthly birthrates that have also been higher as reasons for optimism.

Chien said children are the country's responsibility as well as the parents'. Thus the government has been putting its effort and money into maternity leave, child care, and parental benefits systems.

The government aims to create a better environment to ease the heavy burden on parents, he said.

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