An expert has warned that Taiwan’s birth rate has dropped drastically since 1950. Back then, the average woman gave birth to seven children, but in 2009 the average was only 1.3 children. The male to female ratio of newborns currently stands at about 110 to 100, and for the third child in a household it is 120 boys to 100 girls. It is estimated that as many as 3,000 female fetuses were aborted during 2009.
Minister without Portfolio James Hsueh, who is also a sociology professor at National Taiwan University (NTU), said that the ratio of male to female newborns is unbalanced. As a warning, Hsueh said that Taiwan’s birth rate has been declining since 1950. Around 191,000 babies were born in 2009, but the figure for 2010 may be less than 180,000. He said that when he goes to a park during holidays, he sees more people walking their dogs than playing with their children.
Hsueh said that 20 to 30 years ago, most women gave birth when they were between 25 and 29 years old, but nowadays people tend to get married later or not all, causing women to postpone getting pregnant until they are between 30 and 34 years old. Statistics show that only 43 percent of women between 25 and 34 years old are married. The decline in the marriage rate is much more obvious than in other countries.
PHOTO: LIN CHENG-KUN, LIBERTY TIMES 照片：自由時報
Professor Chen Yu-hua of NTU said that Aboriginal men and men who only have an elementary school education are getting married later and later. In the early years after the end of World War II, Aboriginal men were getting married at around 24 years old, but now on average they wait until they are 33.4 years old to tie the knot. Men who only have an elementary school education get married three to four years later than university graduates, with financial hardship believed to be the reason.
Recent improvements in the financial status of women may be acting as a deterrent to getting married and starting a family. If the government is serious about increasing the birthrate, it should propose an efficient plan to change the attitude of young people or else the situation is only going to get worse.
Apart from the falling birth rate, the gender imbalance is also an area of concern. Hsueh said that parents’ gender preferences only emerge after the birth of their first child. If the first child happens to be a boy, then the second child’s gender is not an issue. But if the first is a girl, the second tends to be a boy. As the number of children in a family grows, the tendency becomes more and more pronounced, as parents rely on gender selection techniques and abortions, which creates a gender imbalance.
Hsueh estimated that there were 3,000 abortions of female fetuses in 2009, if the gender ratio of newborns remained unchanged. He suggested that regulations in the Genetic Health Law be revised to avoid unnecessary abortions. He also suggested lowering taxes on families with children under six years old.
(LIBERTY TIMES, TRANSLATED BY TAIJING WU)
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Literary circles have been celebrating the legacy of late writer Eileen Chang, who would have turned 100 on Wednesday next week. Born in Shanghai, the legendary writer shot to fame in her 20s, and continued to write after moving to Hong Kong, and then the US, in the 1950s. Chang is one of the greatest female Chinese writers, and her classic works include Love in a Fallen City, The Golden Cangue, and The Red Rose and the White Rose. Many of her novels, such as Lust, Caution, were adapted into films and TV drama series. Based on Chang’s novel Aloeswood Incense
Let’s dine out tonight (3/5) 今晚我們去餐廳吃飯吧（三） A: Hmm. . . I can’t decide what to order. I’m hesitating between a lamb rogan josh or a beef vindaloo. B: Well, let’s order both and share the dishes. We can also order the tandoori king prawns that I was just eyeing up. A: The prawn dish will perfectly complement the bottle of Australian Chardonnay that I’ve brought along. It’s a great wine, with notes of peaches and lemongrass. B: Cool! Let’s also order some butter naan bread and pilau rice for two. A: 嗯……我無法決定要點哪一道菜。我正在猶豫要點喀什米爾羊肉咖哩，還是辛辣香料牛肉咖哩。 B: 啊，那我們兩個都點，然後分著吃吧。我們還可以點一份坦都里香料烤明蝦，我剛剛一直在看這道菜。 A: 這道明蝦應該能完美搭配我帶來的這瓶澳洲夏多內白葡萄酒。這瓶酒真的很棒哦，帶有桃子和檸檬草的香氣。 B: 酷！那我們也點一些奶油烤餅，和兩人份的香料米飯吧。 （Edward Jones, Taipei Times／台北時報章厚明譯） WARNING: Excessive consumption of alcohol can damage
A: Hello, I’d like to book a table for two please. For 7 o’clock, if possible. B: Certainly, sir. Let me see if I can fit you in. I’m afraid we’re fully booked at that time, but we do have a space at 8pm. A: No problem, 8pm will be fine. B: Thank you. I‘ve reserved you a table for two for 8pm. Just to let you know, we operate a “bring your own” policy for wine, and corkage is NT$50 per bottle. A: OK. See you later on. A: 你好，我想要訂位，兩個人，方便的話晚上七點。 B: 好的，先生。讓我看看能不能幫您安排座位。不好意思，我們那段時間的訂位滿了，不過晚上八點還有空位。 A: 沒問題，晚上八點可以。 B: 謝謝您。我幫您預約晚上八點，兩個人的座位。另外，提醒您本餐廳關於「自行帶酒」的規定，每瓶酒酌收新台幣五十元開瓶費。 A: 好的。我們晚點見。 （Edward Jones,