Wed, Jan 03, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Doctor forecasts 180,000 births in nation this year

FAMILY UNIT:Lin Chen-li said the declining birth rate was linked to the falling number of couples getting married, both of which have diminished since 2015

By Wu Liang-yi, Chou Yan-yu, Lin Yan-tung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Taipei City Hospital Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology deputy director Lin Chen-li (林陳立) yesterday pessimistically forecast about 180,000 births in the nation for this year, citing the number of newborns last year dropping to less than 200,000 and a relatively low number of “New Year’s babies” born on Monday.

Three New Year’s babies, or children born on Jan. 1, were delivered at the hospital on Monday, compared with one last year, four in 2016 and 11 in 2015, Lin said, adding that Cathay General Hospital only delivered six infants on Monday, compared with 13 last year.

About 177,000 children were born nationwide from January to November last year, Ministry of the Interior statistics showed.

Even with a generous estimate of 18,000 newborns for last month, the number of children born last year would total only 195,000, the ministry said.

There were only 166,000 infants born in 2010, followed closely by 2009 with 191,000, the ministry said, but added that financial difficulties over those two years were a prime reason for a lowered inclination toward having children.

However, there was no such underlying reason for last year, adding that between October and December, the nation’s prime months for births, only 14,000 to 18,000 babies were born per month, Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology secretary-general Huang Min-chao (黃閔照) said.

The declining birth rate was directly tied to the falling number of couples getting married, Lin said.

Compared with 2015, 4 percent less people got married in 2016, resulting in only 208,000 infants being born that year, he said.

Last year, the number of couples who married was down 7 percent annually, Lin said, adding that there might only be 181,000 newborns this year.

He attributed the nation’s declining birth rate to Taiwanese living abroad having children overseas and marriage later in life.

The government should encourage people to marry, establish better childcare facilities and offer incentives to families to have more than one child to boost the birth rate, Lin said.

Companies should foster friendlier environments for employees with children, Huang said.

Former minister of health and welfare Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) said young couples are willing to have children if housing prices are normalized, salaries are increased and the government’s ancillary policies encouraging child birth are ameliorated.

Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said the Executive Yuan has been working on a more complete plan for the birth, child-rearing and childcare systems, adding that it would be announced this month or before the Lunar New Year.

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