Taiwan heading for zero population growth

Posted: 13 June 2006

The population of Taiwan, now about 23 million, is projected to stabilise in 10-15 years - faster than had previously been forecast. Not everyone in that country is welcoming the fact as this report from the China Post shows.

"We are afraid our population will stop growing in 10 to 15 years," said a Council of Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) specialist in Taiwan.

Quoting Ministry of the Interior statistics, the CEPD official said Taiwan's birth rate dropped to an all-time 0.91 per cent low last year. Only 65,400 babies were born in Taiwan in the first four months of this year.

Given these statistics, Taiwan will have a zero population growth somewhere between 2016 and 2021. "Then," the CEPD expert said, "the population is going to shrink."

According to the previous study, zero population growth was expected in 2022. That rate has come down to 0.91 per cent, the CEPD official said. "So the zero growth will be seen in 2016 at the earliest," he added, six years earlier than previously predicted.

Costly children

He attributed the drop in the birth rate to the growing reluctance to have children or large families, the expense of educating children was cited as a factor. Bringing children up and putting them through college costs between NT$4.5 million and NT$6,4 million per head [US$140,000 - 200,000].

Those parents who already have one child don't want any more. A third child is a rarity or an exception. Statistics indicate that one out of every five married women has undergone abortion. All this accelerates the aging of the population.

At present, people aged 65 or older account for nearly 10 per cent of the entire population.

In 20 years, or by 2026, Taiwan will catch up with Japan in the elderly-to-population ratio In Japan, one out of every five people was an elderly citizen last year.

The greying of the population does not only entail large government spending for medical care but will also change the social structure. Schools have to be reduced in number, and there is going to be a drastic change in the market catering to the old and the very young.

Source: China Post reported in Push Journal 5th June,2006