Sat, Sep 20, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Aging population rising fast: ministry

MORE BIRTHS?The interior ministry is drafting an action plan to mitigate the impact of an aging population and encourage young people to have babies, an official said

By Lee Hsin-fang and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The nation’s number of elderly people has increased by 17.8 times over the past seven decades, which has become an increasingly serious issue as the birth rate keeps declining, the Ministry of the Interior said yesterday.

The earliest data the ministry holds show that in 1946, the number of people aged 65 or older was 155,203, or 2.55 percent of the nation’s population.

That number surpassed the half-million mark in 1973, broke 1 million to reach 1,030,542 in 1986 and exceeded 2 million in 2002.

Last year, there were 2,690,406 people aged 65 or above, or 11.53 percent of the total population, the ministry said, adding that the number rose further to 2,763,334 in August this year.

With the number of elderly people having grown by about 17.8 times from that of 1946, the problem of an aging population is quite severe, the ministry said.

Conversely, the nation’s birth rate is declining every year, the ministry said.

In 1947, women, on average, gave birth to 5.42 children, but the number dropped to an average of 1.88 children by 1985, the ministry said.

The birth rate last year dipped to an all-time low of 1.065 per woman, the ministry said.

Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-zen (陳威仁) has instructed the ministry to draft an action plan on how to mitigate the impact of an aging population on the country, Department of Household Registration director Wanda Chang (張琬宜) said.

To that end, the ministry is planning to encourage younger people to get married and have babies, Chang said.

The ministry also hopes to create a friendlier environment for women seeking re-employment after giving birth, she said, adding that such an effort would require not only the ministry but also other government agencies to reach out to the female population.

Furthermore, the ministry has to work on changing the public mindset about marrying late and not having children because of financial constraints, Chang said.

The ministry is also considering promoting flexible work schedules to enable parents to go home and care for their children, she said.

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