The Childcare Policy Alliance yesterday urged the government not to increase the monthly cash incentives to encourage couples to have children and to instead use the money to fund the public childcare system.
In the first six months of the year, the nation recorded 79,760 births, the alliance told a news conference in Taipei, citing statistics from the Ministry of the Interior.
The number of newborns in the nation for the whole of this year could fall below 160,000, it added.
One of President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) main policy proposals during her re-election campaign was to increase the cash incentive from NT$2,500 per month to NT$5,000 per month, the alliance said.
However, alliance convener Liu Yu-hsiu (劉毓秀) said the policy proposal was misguided and that it would instead cause the birthrate to continue to fall.
Raising the cash incentive would encourage mothers to leave their jobs to look after their children at home, thereby lowering the overall income of the family, Liu said.
With a lower family income, couples would be unable to afford to have more children, she said.
The responsibility of providing for the family would fall completely on the father, with the mother being financially dependent on her husband, she added.
Those factors would cause both men and women to become more fearful of getting married or having children, Liu said.
The government should instead invest the money in strengthening the public childcare system, thereby supporting mothers who wish to continue working, she said.
With more effective policies, the government can support parents who are raising children, but it cannot “raise [their] children for [them],” Liu said.
Both Tsai and former president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) have said that the low birthrate was a national security issue, which highlights the importance of the nation’s childcare policy, she said.
Awakening Foundation director of policy Chyn Yu-rung (覃玉蓉) told the news conference that people with lower incomes would be most vulnerable to the effects of a declining birthrate and aging population.
The government’s proposed policy to increase monthly cash incentives to encourage couples to have children runs counter to its successful response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chyn said.
If the government had not regulated the production and distribution of masks, but instead had given each citizen NT$5,000, people would still be having trouble finding masks to buy, she said.
However, the government knew that only policy intervention would be truly effective, so instead of handing out money, it worked with manufacturers to increase production and regulate the distribution of masks, she said.
Likewise, handing out money would not help to solve the declining birthrate, Chyn said, urging the government to increase its funding of the public childcare system.
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