The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday urged the government to establish an agency to address the problem of a falling birthrate.
At a news conference in Taipei ahead of Children’s Day on Sunday, KMT Culture and Communications Committee director-general Alicia Wang (王育敏) said that the number of births in the nation hit a record low of 165,249 last year, citing government statistics.
The low number is “a very serious problem ... that everyone should pay attention to” as it might cause a “national security crisis,” Wang said.
The decline “has a lot to do with the president’s attitude,” she said.
When the number of births reached a low of 166,886 in 2010, then-president Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) treated it as a national security crisis, Wang said.
Ma addressed the problem and promoted many policies to tackle it, she said, adding that the number of births rose to 196,627 in 2011 and 229,481 in 2012.
Since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) took office in 2016, the number of births has continued to decline, Wang said, citing statistics showing 208,440 births in 2016, 193,844 in 2017, 181,601 in 2018 and 177,767 in 2019.
The number of births might fall below 150,000 this year, said James Hsueh (薛承泰), a sociology professor at National Taiwan University who served as a minister without portfolio in Ma’s administration.
The birthrate is declining, while the population is aging, Hsueh said.
In 2000, people older than 65 made up about 8.6 percent of the nation’s population, and that figure rose to 16.1 percent last year, he said, adding that the rate could climb to more than 30 percent in 2040.
The government should set up an agency to address the problem as soon as possible, the KMT said in a statement.
It should also respond to calls from children advocacy groups and establish an agency dedicated to children’s cybersecurity, the KMT said.
Separately yesterday, the KMT-affiliated National Policy Foundation called on the government to extend compulsory education for five-year-olds.
Under the Primary and Junior High School Act (國民教育法), children aged six to 15 receive compulsory primary and junior-high school education.
The government’s policy on preschool education is primarily focused on tuition subsidies, creating quasi-public kindergartens, it said.
The government should also guarantee the quality of preschool education to protect the rights of parents and children, the foundation said.
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