Wed, Jul 25, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Year of the Dragon helps halt aging population rise

Staff writer, with CNA

About 230,000 babies are expected to be born in Taiwan this year, the highest number for a single year since 2002, Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said.

Jiang said the birthrate was higher this year because it is the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac, considered the most auspicious year for giving birth, but he also urged local governments to step up efforts to boost Taiwan’s low birthrate so that the number of newborns would remain high after the year has ended.

The vice premier made the comments at a meeting on Monday on the country’s population policies, which have grown in importance as the birthrate falls and the population ages.

To ease the economic burden of raising children, the Executive Yuan said the government’s goal is to promote high-quality, but affordable education and day care facilities for preschool children.

According to a recent report by the Council for Economic Planning and Development, the number of newborns totaled more than 160,000 in 2010 and more than 190,000 last year. A wedding boom during the Republic of China’s centennial year last year and a spike during the Year of the Dragon this year has delayed the point at which the country’s population will begin to decline from 2023 to 2025, the report showed.

The higher birthrates in the past two years also postponed when Taiwan is expected to become an aged society — when at least 14 percent of the population is aged 65 or above — to 2018 from the original projection of 2017.

Chen Shih-chang (陳世璋), head of the council’s Department of Manpower Planning, said Taiwan is evolving into an aged society at high speed. If the birthrate in the coming years remains high, the government would have more time to adjust its population policies, Chen added.

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