Taiwan is experiencing an increasingly serious problem of declining birth rates. Annual population growth turned negative for the first time in 2020 with only about 165,000 births, and the population shrank again in 2021 with about 153,000 births. One of the key factors behind this issue is that more people are marrying late or not marrying at all. Furthermore, the heavy burdens placed on childrearing households and the difficulties for women in balancing career and family are all impacting people's willingness to have and raise children. The government has therefore proposed three policy directions—broaden access to fertility treatments, pave a smooth road to childbirth, and help balance the scales of work and family—in the hopes of creating a friendly environment to give families peace of mind during pregnancy and childrearing.
Three policy directions
■ Broaden access to fertility treatments: Expand the eligibility of fertility treatment (in vitro fertilization) subsidies to cover all infertile couples beginning July 1, 2021. (Subsidies formerly covered only low-income and middle-low-income households.)
■ Pave a smooth road to childbirth: Increase the number and scope of free prenatal exams for pregnant women. Raise the diagnostic fees and examination fees for prenatal exams to attract more physicians to the obstetrics field and improve the quality of prenatal exams. These measures will help women have a safe and smooth pregnancy and childbirth.
■ Help balance the scales of work and family: Implement measures to create a family-friendly workplace environment: Increase the number of paid leave days for prenatal exams and for accompanying a spouse to prenatal exams and birth; enable greater flexibility when applying for stipends for parental leave without pay; raise the income replacement ratio during parental leave without pay; and allow employees to request more flexible work hours.