TAIPEI, Taiwan - If Taiwan continues to have the same low birth rate as in recent years until 2060, the senior population will be 4.4 times that of children, which could have huge societal consequences, the National Taiwan University Children and Family Research Center (CFRC) said yesterday.
As the Cabinet announced that the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), a human rights treaty adopted by the United Nations, was going to be implemented in Taiwan from yesterday, the CFRC also published their research on the nation's population of children as well as the health of newborn babies.
According to the CFRC, Taiwan's birth rate once reached four in the 1970s, meaning that every woman gave birth to an average of four children.
However, the birth rate has declined since then. Last year, the birth rate registered at 1.07, making Taiwan one of the countries with the world's lowest birth rate.
"There are only about 200,000 newborn babies each year in Taiwan," CFRC Director James Hsueh said.
"If the birth rate does not increase in the future, then the population of the elderly will be 4.4 times that of children after 46 years. This might affect Taiwan's society enormously," stressed Hsueh.
Other than the problem of the low birth rate, research also showed that 8.4 per cent of local newborn babies' birth weights are lower than 2,500 grams.
According to Hsueh, Taiwan is ranked seventh of 40 countries with the most underweight babies, indicating that there may be more newborn babies in Taiwan that are not as strong as babies in other countries.
Hsueh said that this situation may relate to the phenomenon of late marriages and pregnancies.
Lu Hong-ji, a doctor from National Taiwan University Hospital Department of Pediatrics, also said that people tend to get married later in life in the modern world compared to in the past.
In Taiwan, about 40 per cent of people have not been married by their 30th birthday. As it becomes more difficult for women to get pregnant in their 30s, they often esort various medical treatments that may affect birth weight.
Lu reminded people that it will be easier to give birth to a stronger baby if they have children before the age of 30.