Wed, May 01, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Nation’s birth rate slowing after end of Year of Dragon

Staff writer, with CNA

The number of babies born in the first quarter of the year grew 4.7 percent year-on-year, but after surging in January, the figure dropped in the following two months, a phenomenon that suggests the baby boom that began with the Year of the Dragon last year is starting to wane, a government report said.

There were 54,528 babies born in the first quarter, up 4.7 percent from the 52,079 in the same quarter last year, the report released by the Ministry of the Interior on Saturday showed.

In January, the number of newborns rose 43.7 percent from the same period last year, but in February, it fell 10.5 percent and in March, it dropped 12.5 percent. The ministry attributed the changes to a waning of enthusiasm for babies following the end of the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese lunar calendar.

The Dragon, the only mythical creature among the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, is regarded as a symbol of might and intelligence. Traditional beliefs hold that children born in the Year of the Dragon, especially boys, are destined to be successful and wealthy.

The most recent Year of the Dragon ended on Feb. 9 on the Gregorian calendar.

According to the ministry report, among the nation’s 22 cities and counties, Hsinchu City had the highest crude birth rate in the first quarter.

Hsinchu, which also has a higher per capita income than most other cities, saw 3.37 births per 1,000 people in the first quarter. It was followed by the outlying counties of Lienchiang on Matsu Island at 3.23 births, and Kinmen at 3.07 births.

Pingtung County recorded the lowest birth rate at 1.52 births per 1,000 people, followed by Keelung at 1.56 and Chiayi County at 1.74. The report also showed that the ratio of newborn boys to girls stood at 106.3 against 100, dropping from a high of 108.3 against 100 in the same quarter last year.

This has been interpreted as indicating a gradual narrowing of the gender gap.

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