Under the plan, parents will be entitled to a minimum monthly subsidy of 3,000 Taiwan dollars for each newborn up until two years old and an annual schooling stipend of 30,000 Taiwan dollars for children aged two to six years.Subsidies for everyone! Given that the costs of child rearing really kick in after elementary school, a fact known to everyone, it doesn't seem likely that a total subsidy of less than NT$200,000 is going to have much effect on the birthrate.
The government hopes to encourage the public to have more children during the Year of the Dragon in 2012, which is considered the most auspicious year in the Chinese zodiac and a favourite birth sign for children, it added.
Government data showed that fewer babies were born in 2010, which was a Year of the Tiger, as some parents were anxious to avoid having children under one of the fiercest signs in Chinese astrology.
The average number of children Taiwanese women have fell to 1.03 in 2009. In general, every woman needs to give birth to 2.1 children on average, merely to prevent the population from shrinking.
A few days ago the Taipei Times had a feature on a talk given by a local expert:
Hsueh said that 20 to 30 years ago, most women gave birth when they were between 25 and 29 years old, but nowadays people tend to get married later or not all, causing women to postpone getting pregnant until they are between 30 and 34 years old. Statistics show that only 43 percent of women between 25 and 34 years old are married. The decline in the marriage rate is much more obvious than in other countries.The expert called for a government plan to change the attitude of young people. Attitude isn't really the problem....
The Wiki entry on Aging population has a useful summary:
Asia and Europe are the two regions where a significant number of countries face severe population ageing in the near future. In these regions within twenty years many countries will face a situation where the largest population cohort will be those over 65 and average age will be approaching 50...."...largely depends on immigration..." It is not a coincidence that countries that are remarkably uninviting toward immigrants (Japan!) are facing severe aging issues. The real problem with Taiwan isn't the birthrates of its women but the way it defines who can be a citizen of Taiwan -- someone with the "right blood" only. If Taiwan had a sensibly open immigration policy, it could attract talented foreigners whose children would be certifiably Taiwanese. In a sense we already have such a policy with the children of foreign brides....
Most of the developed world (with the notable exception of the United States) now has sub-replacement fertility levels, and population growth now depends largely on immigration together with population momentum which arises from previous large generations now enjoying longer life expectancy.
Another issue that no one in power seems to have grappled with is that Taiwan is really a not an attractive place to raise children, especially relative to income. Pollution, safety issues, school pressure -- there is a total lack of kid-oriented culture in Taiwan, with few activities and institutions aimed at expanding and growing the minds and bodies of children. Taiwan puts too much emphasis on producing more rosy countables -- because Taiwanese are so obsessed with their world rankings -- and ignores difficult to count things like livability and child growth opportunities. Focusing more on livability for kids would increase the desire for people to raise their young here. It would also give Taiwan an edge in the industry-attraction sweepstakes against places like Korea and China -- tech types prefer areas that have rich cultural and recreational options.
UPDATE: M adds insight in the comments:
However, it is also important to remember that Taiwan's birth rate among married couples is not particularly low. The main problem is that people are choosing not to get married at all. Maybe they are too busy working overtime to get round to it. A more friendly environment for adults (and in particular adult workers)is also required. In contrast older workers are much better looked after - once you have been in a job for 20 or 20 years you can get 4-5 weeks of paid leave.This article buttresses M's point:
According to Business Weekly, the main reason for not bearing children is due to financial concerns. Even taking away the income factor, the online survey also showed only 20 percent of those who earn a high monthly income of NT70,000 (US$2,200) would like to have children in five years while 38 percent would not follow through because they feel they are too old.This article from last year makes the opposite case.
The survey concluded that young Taiwanese couples who can bear children often do not, due to a fear of the financial burden, while those on higher incomes can no longer conceive children due to their age.
This is why the government is now actively encouraging young people to get married and have children, hoping to lower the percentage of unmarried females aged 45-49 to 18%, from 19% now, and to boost the number of children born to each married couple to 1.4, from the current 1.1.Since the projected avg birth rate for all females this year is 0.94, it doesn't seem that married couples are much different. Females, married or single, are just not having kids, for all the reasons M alluded to. I wonder how much a role hidden employer discouragement plays.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.