Taiwan's population to shrink in 5 to 9 years

Taiwan, grappling with low birth rates, will see its population decrease in five to nine years, local media reported yesterday, citing a report by the National Development Council.
Taiwan, grappling with low birth rates, will see its population decrease in five to nine years, local media reported yesterday, citing a report by the National Development Council. PHOTO: ISTOCKPHOTO

TAIWAN • Taiwan, grappling with low birth rates, will see its population decrease in five to nine years, local media reported yesterday, citing a report by the National Development Council (NDC).

The report released on Monday says the local population will peak between 2021 and 2025, to an estimated size of 23.66 million to 23.81 million. The number is 110,000 to 260,000 higher than Taiwan's current population of 23.55 million.

By 2061, the population will drop to between 17.07 million and 19.49 million, down 72.5 to 82.8 per cent from the current level.

The estimate is based on the assumption of a fertility rate of 1.2 - the average number of children a woman will have over her lifetime. This assumption is higher than the actual rate of 1.17 in 2014 and 2015.

In Taiwan, the working age group (aged between 15 and 64) already reached its highest number last year. Beginning this year, Taiwan has entered the ageing society phase.

By 2061, the working age group is projected to drop by 45.3 per cent. Another worrying development is that close to half of the population will be between 45 and 64 years old.

The 0-14 age group will decrease by some 44 per cent due to a declining birth rate. But those aged 65 and older will continue to climb in number, and are expected to surpass the 0-14 age group by next year. This senior population is forecast to be four times the size of the junior population by 2061.

As Taiwan's population grows older, the working age group will inevitably carry greater responsibility for elder care. The NDC's study shows that this year, it takes an average of 5.6 people to care for one elderly person. The number will drop to 1.3 by 2061.

Taiwan has a low birth rate compared to most other countries. As longevity increases, the nation will turn into an aged society in two years, and a super-aged society in 10 years, the report said.

Birth rate plays a pivotal role if Taiwan is to reverse the trend of an ageing population. The old-age structure does not serve the nation's interest and may compromise Taiwan's competitiveness, the NDC said.

THE CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 25, 2016, with the headline 'Taiwan's population to shrink in 5 to 9 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe