It is, says the president, an issue that threatens Taiwan’s very existence. Authorities are mustering every weapon to see the problem off: from money to Chinese astrology and blind dates for its citizens. The island’s plummeting birth rate is one of the lowest in the world, experts say, prompting a warning from the president himself, Ma Ying-jeou, that it is “a serious national security threat”. Taipei believes the year of the dragon, which began on Monday, is its last chance to turn things around. As an auspicious time for birth, each dragon year sees a sizable baby bump. By adding cash and other incentives, it hopes to produce a larger than usual increase to maintain its 23 million population. In industrialised countries, the average woman must have about 2.1 children to keep the population stable. In many places the fertility rate has dipped well below that – and in Taiwan it has plunged. In 1951, the average Taiwanese woman would have seven children. In 2010, the fertility rate was 0.89. The population is expected to start shrinking in the next 15 years. Equally worrying is its rapid ageing. About 14% of citizens are over 65. Within two decades, that will… Read full this story
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