Although the government spends about NT$7.4 billion (US$250 million) annually in an effort to raise the nation’s birth rate, the campaign has motivated very few couples to give birth, a survey showed yesterday.
The poll, conducted by the Child Welfare League Foundation, showed that only 14 percent of respondents were encouraged by the government incentives to have children.
Foundation executive secretary Stephanie Huang (黃韻璇) underlined three major problems in the government’s childcare policy, which may have hindered childbirth.
The survey showed that “about 45 percent of mothers with children below three years old do not receive any childcare subsidy or stipend,” Huang said.
“Nearly all the subsidies go to support working mothers to cover their expenses on childcare. Subsidies for full-time mothers are very few,” she said.
Many parents found the policy on childcare stipends and subsidies difficult to understand, Huang said.
Moreover, many were not aware of the policy because of inadequate promotion by the government, she said, adding that it was one reason why there were very few applicants for the subsidies.
The survey was conducted from March 15 to April 15 among mothers with children less than three years old. A total of 1,312 valid questionnaires were collected.
Aside from the lack of motivation to have children, the survey also found that 62 percent of mothers said it was stressful to raise children, with one out of 10 saying that they were experiencing high levels of stress.
In a question where respondents were given more than one choice to define stress, 65 percent of the mothers selected economic pressure as the main source of stress.
Fifty-three percent of respondents said they were under stress because they was no way to alleviate the exhaustion and pressure from caring for the children. Thirty-nine percent said it was stressful to combine work and childcare at the same time.
Asked to evaluate their performance, about 20 percent of respondents said they felt that they were not doing well in their roles as mothers.
While conventional wisdom suggests mothers juggling work and family are more likely to suffer from medium or high-level stress, the survey found that it was more stressful being a stay-at-home mom than a working mom.
According to the foundation, stay-at-home moms may be under greater economic pressure because they rely only on one income for the family.
They are also more likely to be under greater parenting pressure because of the lack of family assistance, be more prone to low spirits and have no sense of accomplishment.
In addition, 60 percent of the mothers in the survey said they did not have time to do things that they really wanted to do.
Forty-two percent said they often did not sleep well at night, and 16 percent said their relationship with their husbands had deteriorated, the poll showed.