Sun, Apr 15, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Family happiness is not everything

By Chang Hsun-ching 張勳慶

According to demographic data from the Ministry of Justice, people older than 65 comprised 14.04 percent of Taiwan’s population last month, formally transforming Taiwan from an aging to an aged society. This means that one Taiwanese in seven is now a senior citizen.

According to official data, the administrative areas with the oldest populations are Chiayi County and Taipei, with 18.6 percent and 16.5 percent senior citizens, respectively.

Before the publication of this data, print media had run reports to the same effect and they all asked the same old question: As the population ages, will economic growth and tax revenue make it possible to maintain a balance between expenditures and revenues?

PRESSURE

As officials and academics base their plans on cold, hard numbers, those who marry late, or do not marry, or marry and do not want children, are subjected to intangible pressure, as if they are committing a sin and betraying the nation.

In an era of thorough liberalization and respect for diversity, the high level of individualism and the view that you should follow your own plan in modern society could speed up Taiwan’s transformation from an aged to a superaged society — when more than 20 percent are aged 65 or older — and as a result, the calculations underlying the government’s pension reform could quickly fail.

WIDESPREAD

Schools at all levels will of course also close one after the other and even teachers at national universities will face potential unemployment.

This situation has already occurred in Japan, and one could even say that — in addition to factors restricting people’s choices, such as income and economic development — many mature, economically developed nations are facing this problem.

SHACKLED

Most important in this context is to engage in self-reflection. Everyone belongs to a family, but we should no longer be shackled by the family system and the idea of continuing the bloodline, as ever more people acknowledge and respect the view that we should all follow our own path.

Not having children does not mean being selfish and only caring about one’s own interests. The state and the government, regardless of who is in power, are not qualified to tell people what to do and what not to do — this should be the starting point as we try to change and create a truly diversified society.

SPELLBOUND

There is of course a relationship between population and the economy, but we must not forget that as we have entered the Internet era, the view that numbers equal strength is no longer the only way to bring about growth and expansion.

The government and many people who like to get involved in things that are not their business continue to be spellbound by the idea of family happiness, getting married and having children.

This view is no different from viewing one’s life as a canned, prepackaged product, rather than asking whether it is about creating another life or if it is about helping other people develop and explore a life in freedom.

FUSS

There is no need to make a fuss about being an aged society, as long as we do not all live the same way because we are shackled by tangible or intangible restrictions and limitations.

This is how we evolve from generation to generation and it is a more humane way of life.

Chang Hsun-ching is a writer.

Translated by Perry Svensson

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