April 3, 2010

Taiwan Parents To Profit From Having Children

Taiwan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world and the government said on Friday that it might start paying people to have children.

The interior ministry said that it is considering a proposal for $160 a month for all children under the age of three.  This would cost the country $36 billion a year.

"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," it said in a statement.

Taiwan's authorities have offered various incentives in the past to encourage births after growing concerns that a severe manpower shortage will trigger serious social and economic problems.

Last month, the ministry kicked off an online contest for a slogan that would "make everybody want to have children" with a cash prize of one million Taiwan dollars for the winner.

Over 1,000 entries were put in just hours after it started, which caused the ministry to upgrade its systems after its website was temporarily paralyzed from the traffic.

According to official figures, the island's birth rate stood at 8.29 per 1,000 people last year.  The United Nations said that compares with a global average of over 20 births per 1,000 people.

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.

Taiwan had 191,310 births last year, which is down about four percent from the previous year.