Fri, Mar 30, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Birthrate rises as result of stimulus, ROC centennial

BABY BUMP:A total of 197,000 babies were born last year, and one official predicted that more than 200,000 would be born this year, the Year of the Dragon

Staff writer, with CNA

The nation’s birthrate rose to an average of 1.07 births per woman of childbearing age last year, thanks to economic stimulus measures and a sense of optimism in the country’s centennial year, after hitting a record low of 0.89 the previous year, a Ministry of the Interior official said yesterday.

The 197,000 newborns last year marked a major increase on 2010, when Taiwan recorded one of the lowest official birthrates in the world.

The government’s stimulus programs and the Republic of China centennial were the main drivers of the growth, Child Welfare Bureau director Chang Hsiu-yuan (張秀鴛) said in a report to Premier Sean Chen (陳冲).

As the UN has not yet published its report on international birthrates for last year, it is still not known how the local birthrate measures up against that of other nations, though the rate of 1.07 was still lower than that of Singapore (1.2) and Hong Kong (1.189), both of which also have low fertility rates.

Chang said ministry statistics for January and last month indicate that the number of marriages remained roughly unchanged from the same period last year. However, she added that she expected the number of newborns to reach 200,000 this year — the Year of the Dragon — which is considered the most auspicious of the Chinese zodiac animals and traditionally prompts a spike in the birthrate in Chinese communities.

Taiwan’s total birthrate fell from 3.09 per woman of childbearing age in 1976 to 1.23 births in 2003, which resulted in the nation being officially classified as a “low birthrate” country, Chang said.

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