The number of babies born in Taiwan in the first half of this year fell to the lowest in eight years for the same period, which a health professional linked to a lack of job security among women.
The number of babies born from January to June was 85,961, down from 89,830 a year earlier, Ministry of the Interior data showed.
The annual number of births is likely to fall below 180,000 this year if the trend continues, Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology secretary-general Huang Min-chao (黃閔照) said on Thursday.
Most women are choosing their careers over having children, which is one of the reasons why the nation’s birth rate has been declining steadily, Huang said.
Some women are worried that pregnancy and maternity leave would have a negative impact on their careers or they would receive unfavorable treatment when they return to work, he said.
The problem could be addressed by creating a more friendly work environment for pregnant women, offering subsidies for families with children and increasing the number of affordable daycare centers, Huang said.
Many women who want to have children are delaying parenthood, he said.
One in five pregnant women in Taiwan are having their first child at 35 or older, Huang said.
Women who become pregnant when they are older are more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and have a higher risk of miscarriage than younger women, he said.
The average age of first-time mothers in Taiwan was 27 in 2016, according to a survey released by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in March.
Women with higher education qualifications tend to get married and have children at a later age than the average, according to the survey, which was conducted among married and single women and men aged 20 to 49.
Among married couples with zero to one child and no plans to have any more, 39 percent of women and 51.6 percent of men said they did not want more children because they were worried about the financial implications.
Within that same group, 15.2 percent of women and 10.5 percent of men said they were worried that they would not have enough time or assistance to raise a child.
However, 10.7 percent of women and 9.95 percent of men in the group said they were not confident in their ability to raise a child to become a functional and productive citizen.
[Taipei Times, 2019-08-27]