Taiwan is likely to witness a population decline for a second consecutive year, unless the birthrate spikes in the final three months of this year, Ministry of the Interior data suggested on Saturday.
As of last month, the number of births stood at 112,470, roughly equivalent to a baby being born every 3.2 minutes, or a crude birth rate of 6.99 newborns per 1,000 people, the ministry said.
The nation recorded 138,018 deaths over the period, exceeding births by 25,548 people, the ministry said.
Photo courtesy of Lee Women’s Hospital
The number of births in the first nine months of this year fell 5.5 percent, or 6,545 people, from the same period last year, it said.
Last year’s 165,249 births were the lowest in the nation’s recorded history, it added.
If this year’s trend continues, the nation would record a second consecutive year of population decline, as well as the lowest birthrate in its history, the ministry said.
A total of 13,464 babies were born last month, 390 fewer than a year earlier, but up 876 from a month earlier, the data showed.
Taiwan’s population stood at 23.43 million as of the end of last month, down 137,430 people from last year, or equivalent to losing 376.5 people a day, the ministry said.
According to the biennial Population Estimate Report issued by the National Development Council, Taiwan is to become a hyper-aged society by 2025, due to a dwindling number of people aged 14 or younger, while people aged 65 or older are to make up more than 20 percent of the population.
Advocacy groups have called on the government to amend laws to create family-friendly working environments to encourage young couples to have children.
The government should mandate “childbirth preparation leave” for expectant mothers and fathers, instead of the current leave for prenatal checkups for women only, they said.
That would allow employees to take leave under more diverse conditions, for example to look for daycare centers or take child-rearing classes, the groups said.
The groups also called for amendments to Article 19 of the Act of Gender Equality in Employment (性別工作平等法), which allows people working at companies with at least 30 employees to apply for one hour per workday of unpaid work to care for children up to three years old.
The article should be revised to include people caring for children up to six years old and abolish reduced pay, the groups said.
Current laws allow people caring for children aged up to three to take unpaid leave for up to three years, while those who continue to work may take a week of unpaid leave per year to care for children at home, they said.
The laws should be amended to include parents of children aged up to six, the groups said, adding that the government should provide social insurance to people taking leave.
Public-sector employees are granted two weeks of paid leave annually for childcare.
The groups said the policy should be extended to all sectors.
“If you want young people to have more children you cannot just throw money at the problem,” Taiwan Men advocacy group supervisor Shih Yi-hsiang (施逸翔) said.
The government should facilitate the normalization of a work environment that would allow young people to work and take care of their families, he added.
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