The government of Taiwan announced last week that it will consider paying couples cash bonuses to have more children, after it was revealed that the country has one of the lowest birth rates in the world.
The government is considering a proposal that will offer couples the equivalent of U.S. $160 a month for all children under the age of three. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that there are fears of a loss of economic productivity and manpower shortages should the birth rate continue to fall.
“The ministry hopes to raise the public’s willingness to have children with measures that help them look after their children and improve their living standards,” the statement said.
As part of the government’s plan to increase births, the Interior Ministry has launched an online contest, offering the equivalent of US $1,250, one million Taiwanese dollars, for an advertising slogan that will increase the country’s disastrously low birth rate. “We are seeking a creative slogan that would appeal to the public and make everybody want to have children.”
Taiwan, with a population of approximately 23 million, has one of the lowest birth rates in the world, estimated between 1.14 and 1.12 children born per woman. The country’s population growth rate has slid from 0.64 per cent in 2000 to 0.23 per cent in 2009. In 2009, only 191,310 babies were born in Taiwan, down almost four per cent from 2008.
The China Times Newspaper said that Lao Song Elementary School in Taipei, which set a world record in 1966 as the school with the most pupils at 11,000, now only has 778.
The governance of Taiwan, known formally as the Republic of China, is under dispute, with a nationalist movement working for independence from the People’s Republic of China, which has governed the island state since the end of World War II. Since that time, Taiwan has developed into one of the four economic “Asian Tigers,” along with Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong. With this economic boom, however, has come the same fall in birth rates that has characterized the developed countries of the west.