The population of Taipei last year fell to the lowest in 23 years due to high rent, more transportation options and the expansion of northern cities into a single metropolis, academics and city officials said on Monday.
Data released this month by the Ministry of the Interior showed that the capital was home to 2,602,418 people last year, down 42,623 from 2019.
The decline is second only to 1993, when the population fell by 42,828 people, while Taipei’s population was the lowest it has been since 1997.
Photo: Tyrone Siu, Reuters
Taipei saw the biggest drop among the six special municipalities, while Taoyuan led the group in population increase, adding 19,770 people.
The figures are not unusual, as Taiwan’s population is declining, said Chen Liang-chuan (陳亮全), a former professor in the Department of Urban Planning and Disaster Management at Ming Chuan University in Taipei.
As rent and early education costs in Taipei are the nation’s highest, “it is difficult for young people to start families here,” he said.
Taipei Department of Civil Affairs statistics show that the difference between the number of births in 2019 and last year was less than 2,500, but more than 34,000 people moved away, which shows that the population decline was due to societal, not natural factors.
Wu Chung-hsing (吳重信), head of population policy at the civil affairs department, said that the exodus is to be expected.
Given the population density in Taipei, public transportation expansion and flexible real-estate options, it is natural that people would move to New Taipei City, Taoyuan or other places where housing is cheaper, Wu said.
In a 2019 survey, the civil affairs department found that most former Taipei residents moved to New Taipei City’s Tamsui (淡水) or Sanchong (三重) districts, he said.
Rezoned areas near Banciao, Jiangzicui, Xinzhuang Fuduxin and other stations on the MRT lines linking Taipei, New Taipei City and Taoyuan are also popular, he said.
However, the population movement would gradually stabilize as the nation’s northern cities combine into a single metropolis, Wu said.
What was previously the “Taipei-Keelung” area has already expanded to include New Taipei City, he said, adding that Taoyuan would likely be absorbed next.
Chung Hua University professor Tu Tze-chen (杜紫宸) said that population shift away from Taipei was likely due to housing and transportation costs.
In New Taipei City’s Tucheng (土城) and Sindian (新店) districts alone, homes are NT$150,000 to NT$200,000 cheaper per ping (3.31m2) than in Taipei, Tu said.
New Taipei City and Taoyuan are the most attractive options for Taipei residents seeking to move, as land is limited in Keelung, while Yilan County is not favored, as traffic on the Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (Freeway No. 5) is often congested, he said.
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