The government will do its utmost to foster an environment conducive to having children, Vice Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) said yesterday.
Chien made the pledge at a public hearing in Taipei on how to encourage childbirth among young couples. Quoting academic studies, Chien said the number of people aged 65 or older is likely to reach 39 percent of Taiwan's total population by 2051.
By then, Chien said, Taiwan's streets could be filled with elderly people. Against this backdrop, he said, encouraging people to have children is the government's established policy.
Noting that having children is not only a personal duty but also a government responsibility, Chien said the government will cultivate an environment in which young couples are willing to have children. According to statistics compiled by the Ministry of the Interior, Taiwan's childbirth rate ranked among the world's lowest last year, with 1.24 births per 1,000 people. During the same year, the birth rate was 1.2 births per 1,000 people in Italy, 1.5 in Sweden, 1.9 in France, and 2 in the US.
The Council for Economic Planning and Development estimated that Taiwan's population could begin to show negative growth by 2022. Some experts said if effective measures are not implemented, Taiwan's future would be at stake.