Nation’s birth rate rising despite poor conditions
BORN IN THE ’80s:Women born since the 1980s are waiting longer to have children, but are having more than those born in the 1970s, NTU research shows
By Chen Wei-han
The nation’s low birth rate has bounced back slightly since 2011, following the enactment of fertility policies, although unsatisfying working conditions and low wages contribute to low fertility rates, National Taiwan University (NTU) research showed.
Birth rates have rebounded from a historic low of 0.91 children born per woman in 2010 to about 1.1 in recent years, which is possibly due to fertility policies and generational differences, NTU sociology professor Chen Yu-hua (陳玉華) said at a news conference held by the Ministry of Science and Technology on Wednesday last week.
“While the number of children born has steadily decreased, women born in the 1980s and later — despite generally giving birth at an older age — have overtaken women born in the 1970s in terms of the number of children born per person, due to the enactment of childbirth subsidies and maternity leave policies. It is likely that women born in the 1970s have the lowest fertility rate,” Chen said.
However, the nation’s birth rate is still too low, with an estimated 30 percent of people born in the 1990s and later unlikely to have children, and 40 percent unlikely to have grandchildren.
Low fertility rates are mainly caused by low household income, unfriendly work environments and the high cost of child rearing, coupled with limited government efforts to encourage women to have children, Chen said.
“Taiwan’s working conditions are such that women either dare not request maternity leave, or they are not reinstated to original positions following maternity leave,” she said.
Average household expenditure on children’s education in Taiwan is NT$781,702 — the highest in the world in terms of total household income — but the government has offered only limited assistance in child rearing compared with other nations, Chen said.
“Taipei’s total birth rate has climbed from about 10 percent in 2010 to nearly 14 percent in 2014 because the city launched a series of policies to encourage women to give birth, suggesting such policies can boost birth rates. Low birth rates and an aging population are increasingly common in lower-income areas, such as Nantou, Yunlin and Chiayi,” she said.