Although survey results released yesterday indicated that most of the nation's children are happy, some academics warned of growing social and regional gaps among kids.
A poll conducted by a magazine, which surveyed 2,000 third to sixth graders attending 44 schools across the nation, said that 79.9 percent of children are happy with their lives -- a 0.9 percent increase over last year's poll.
However, academics warned about a gap in the child population.
"We have found that feelings of unhappiness are concentrated in [children of] certain families, instead of being equally distributed,"said Tsai Wen-che (
Through detailed questions, Tsai concluded that 20 to 30 percent of children live in families suffering the pressure of economic difficulties.
"Although the overall happiness rate has increased slightly from last year, the economic burden has not become lighter for everybody. Instead, it has perhaps worsened for some," he said.
This year's poll result also indicated a social gap divided along geographical lines.
The eastern part of Taiwan, including Hualien and Taitung counties, ranked the lowest in many categories. Economic pressure was still a major problem in that region.
"Sixty percent of students from Hualien are not able to pay tuition at my school," said Chai Sung-lin (
Chai attributed the economic difficulty in east Taiwan to the lack of employment opportunities in the region, which triggered another source of unhappiness for the children.
"Because of the lack of job opportunities, many people from the two counties have to move to the western part of Taiwan to find jobs," he said. "And because they can only find low-wage jobs, they can't afford to take their family with them. They therefore have to leave their children behind."
The poll results showed that over 50 percent of children in eastern Taiwan lived separately from their parents. Lack of comfort and support from family members was likely a major reason for children's unhappiness in the east, as more than 60 percent of children identified parents and family as their main source of happiness.