Tue, Mar 03, 2009 - Page 4 News List

COMMUNITY COMPASS: Transnational weddings decline

ECONOMIC WOESTighter immigration controls and the effects of the weak economy have seen the number of Taiwanese marrying foreign spouses fall in the last six years

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

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The rate of marriages between Taiwanese and foreign nationals has been declining in recent years as a result of a stricter immigration interview system and the effects of a weak economy, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) and observers said on Friday.

The rate of international marriages had climbed from 15.69 percent in 1998 to 31.86 percent in 2003, MOI statistics showed.

The 2003 figure translates into about one in every three marriages in the nation, with 50 percent of the transnational marriages involving a Chinese spouse, the statistics showed.

However, after 2003 the rate of transnational marriages began declining and by last year it had dropped to 14 percent, with one in seven marriages being transnational, the statistics showed.

The biggest decline, 16 percent, was recorded in marriages between Taiwanese and Chinese spouses, followed by a 13 percent drop in unions between Taiwanese and Southeast Asian spouses.

The MOI attributed the drop in the transnational marriage rate to a tighter immigration interview system introduced by the government and a comparative improvement in the economies of the home nations of most potential foreign spouses.

The National Immigration Agency has put in place a system under which Chinese spouses are interviewed upon entry into Taiwan, in an attempt to weed out fake marriages. All foreign spouses from Southeast Asian nations are interviewed both in their home nation and at the point of entry into Taiwan, in accordance with Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ regulations.

“Taiwan’s sluggish economy has probably also contributed to the decline in the number of cross-border marriages,” said Wang Shi-hou (王士豪), an international marriage broker.

“In this time of economic recession, Taiwanese men are showing less interest in marrying foreign women,” Wang said, citing the fact that it costs about NT$300,000 to arrange a marriage with a Vietnamese bride through a marriage broker.

“Therefore, many people are deferring their plans to marry,” he said.

Meanwhile, the economic downturn is also dampening the enthusiasm of foreign women to marry Taiwanese men, as they fear that they may not be able to make ends meet, Wang said. Moreover, with the growth of China’s economy in recent years, many Chinese women are no longer seeing Taiwan as a top choice for finding a husband, but rather are turning their attention more to Japan and South Korea, he said.

MOI statistics showed that last year 66.7 percent of the Taiwanese men who married non-Taiwanese women chose women from China, Hong Kong and Macau, while 22 percent married Vietnamese wives and 4.4 percent tied the knot with Indonesian women.

Also last year, some 869 Taiwanese women married Japanese men, 621 married men from China, Hong Kong and Macau and 521 tied the knot with Americans, the statistics showed.

The statistics are in line with the so-called “marriage gradient theory” — that men tend to marry women slightly below their own levels of achievement, in terms of education, income and career, and social and economic status, said Wang Yun-tung (王雲東), an assistant professor of Social Work at National Taiwan University.

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