The number of unmarried Taiwanese between the ages of 20 and 40 reached 4.4 million this year, while the number of married couples fell by 6.18 percent from a year earlier, according to the latest poll by the Ministry of the Interior.
Last month, 7,844 couples got married, a decline of 596 couples, or 5.63 percent, from a year earlier, the ministry said.
Among the nation’s six special municipalities, New Taipei City had the highest number of marriages at 2,838, with Taichung coming in second at 1,948 and Taipei third at 1,880, the poll showed.
Taoyuan had the highest marriage rate at 5.16 percent, with Hualien City coming in second at 4.76 percent, the survey showed.
Penghu County had the lowest marriage rate at 1.88 percent, while Chiayi County came in second-last at 2.56 percent, the poll showed.
There has been virtually no increase in the number people getting married over the past decade, the Department of Household Registration said.
A total of 147,000 couples were married last year, it said, adding that from January to last month, there were only 96,824 marriages, 6,374 fewer from the same period last year.
Of the unmarried Taiwanese between the ages of 20 and 40, men account for 2.43 million and women account for 1.96 million, the department said.
There are 920,000 unmarried people in the 40-to-100 age group, it added.
Divorce rates have increased by 2.51, or 40,820 couples, between January and last month, compared with the same period last year, the department said.
Statistics show that there were more than 50,000 divorces every year over the past decade, the department added.
The average wages for people under 40 are relatively low, which would lead to a higher rate of unmarried people, National Taiwan University sociology professor Sun Chung-hsing (孫中興) said.
If living together is better than marriage and satisfies their sexual needs, then rational people would of course choose not to marry, as marriage does not present more benefits, Sun said.
The situation is not unique to Taiwan and other nations, such as Japan and France, are experiencing a similar situation, Sun said, adding that in those countries, as well as in Taiwan, the number of foreign spouses is increasing.
The government offers only several thousand New Taiwanese dollars in child subsidies, which makes it difficult for the younger generation to afford children, Sun said.
The modern emphasis on individualism means that it is not surprising that many people are choosing not to marry, Sun added.
Only with a doubling of salaries for younger people could the government begin to address their fear of marriage, Sun said.
The government should also provide tax or insurance incentives, as well as increased benefits, such as days off for pregnant women, to support population growth, Sun said.
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