East Asia, including Macau, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, always had the lowest fertility rate in the world for the past few years. For Taiwan especially, its fertility rate officially reached below one baby per woman – 0.9 – the world’s lowest in 2010.
At the beginning of 2014, Taiwan’s Ministry of Home Affairs announced that the average birth rate for 2013 was 1.07, although slightly better than the 2011 figure, the figure represented a 15.4% decrease compared to the previous year’s 1.265.
While it may be shocking to some, it was not surprising to a lot of Taiwanese. The 2012 fertility rate of 1.265 was a decade-high number for Taiwan’s society based on the fact that 2012, in Chinese Zodiac, was the Year of Dragon, the most auspicious year, in the opinion of Chinese. Many Chinese mothers then chose it as a favorite year to give birth. Following the Year of Dragon is the Year of Snake, whose nickname is “little dragon”, but significantly less popular as a birth timing choice.
Throughout the whole of last year, there were about 39,000 fewer new babies than that of the previous year in Taiwan. Likewise, Taiwan’s neighbors also suffer from the same issue: Hong Kong’s fertility rate for 2013 is estimated at 1.11, Macau at 0.93 and Singapore at 0.79.
Factors attributing to such low fertility rate include higher education among females as well as economic recession. Female in these regions are usually highly educated, and have nearly equivalent career opportunities as male, which drive female, especially those educated ones, to regard career success as a priority over giving births.
Economic distress contributes to the low fertility rates as well. Stricken by the global financial distress in 2007, economic growth has stuck in the mud with a long-term gloomy outlook, thwarting people’s willingness to give births, since raising a child indicates a huge amount of expense that many couples cannot afford.
So, people stop having babies nowadays. What does this mean?
When the low fertility rate and a longer life expectancy, countries will have an overall aging population, meaning that there are lesser labor force available to support the growing number of the aging population. There will be burdens and costs incurred for young people and society, and economy can be pulled back even further.
(Source: Chinatimes Taiwan)
Governments have corresponding policies to improve the low birth rate. Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore governments have spent huge sums of money on public promotion, baby bonus and tax reduction hoping citizens to have more babies, but to no avail.
In addition, China, seeing its slowing growth in population, replaced its 30-year one-child policy with a new policy that allows parents to have up to two children in November last year.
So would China be successful in increasing the birth rate?
To address the problem, economy is all that matters. As long as people feel no economic prosperity, they will not feel secure enough to have children.
What do you think can be done?