While it didn’t actually shrink like the populations of both Shanghai and Beijing, Taiwan's population grew by just 0.13 percent in 2017.  It was the lowest annual growth rate in Taiwan's recorded history according to its internal affairs department’s Saturday report, and it has been in constant decline since 1984. 

It is estimated by Taiwan’s National Development Council's that its population will stop growing altogether in 2024 after peaking at 23.74 million, and will then stagnate before beginning to decline.  Once Taiwan reaches this “super-aged” phase, it is predicted that the population will begin to decline considerably to somewhere between 17 million to 19.49 million in the latter half of the 21st century. 

Linda Arrigo, an American-born academic and member of the Population Association of Taiwan, commented on some of reasons for the huge decline in births back in 2011, the year Taiwan’s birth rate fell to the world’s lowest:

Having been here in the 1960s as a teenager, I’ve seen this tremendous change from people wanting to have four or five children to now the young women I know, many of them say they want one or no children at all.  And it’s hard to understand the motivation except that professionals want a life of their own.

…Young people’s motivations are so much changed. They say that having children is prohibitively expensive. They don’t want to spend the labor. They are also very much pressed in their professional jobs, as teachers, as computer programmers,”

The fertility rate in Taiwan has stood at 1.17 in recent years, but authorities plan to offer more incentives to further boost the birth rate.  According to a recent survey, the financial burden is the main reason that working couples say they choose not to have a child.  The survey also found that 23 percent of people say that they have experienced discrimination in the workplace due to getting married or pregnant, having to give up their career, shift or move to other posts.

In an interview with CNA, the minister of Health and Welfare, Chen Shih-chung said that the Taiwanese government puts great importance on children.  Increased child-care programs and maternity leave are on the agenda in order to encourage young couples to have babies.  An increased focus on the importance and esteem of the job of 'mother' is also much needed.

Shannon Roberts

Shannon Roberts is co-editor of MercatorNet's blog on population issues, Demography is Destiny. While she has a background as a barrister, writing has been a life-long passion and she has contributed...