Policy response to declining birth rates—Building a friendly environment for child-rearing

  • Date: 2018-08-10

Taiwan is currently experiencing a steep decline in birth rates. Reasons for this drop include changing values toward marriage and children, the heavy economic burden of raising children, and a shortage of public and subsidized child care. To address these issues, the government amended the Early Childhood Education and Care Act to provide private enterprises with more freedom to establish onsite day care or cooperative child care services for the children of employees. Furthermore, a formal plan to respond to lower birth rates has been established, which will reduce the strain of child-rearing, with the objective of raising both birth rates and women’s participation in the workforce.

Three strategies to lighten the burden of child-rearing for parents

 Expand public child care and preschools: Between 2017 and 2020, 1,247 new classes will be added at public preschools, with an additional 1,000 classes to be created between 2021 and 2022. Together, these new classes will provide care for 60,000 children. For newborns and children up to the age of 2, the government will continue to promote community-based public child care. Plans call for an annual increase of 80 facilities between 2018 and 2020, and an additional 100 facilities per year in 2021 and 2022, for a total of 440 new locations. This new capacity will accommodate 5,280 children.

 Use public funds to subsidize quality private child care and preschool: The government is providing subsidies to contracted home-based child care, private day care centers and private preschools to ease the financial burden on parents. This subsidy policy began covering newborns to 2-year-olds in August 2018, along with children aged 2 to 5 in 16 cities and counties outside of Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung. The policy will go into effect nationwide in August 2019.

 Expand subsidies for child-rearing: Eligible families are set to receive monthly payments of NT$2,500 (US$81) for each child up to the age of 4, and an extra NT$1,000 (US$33) for every child beyond the first two. Low- and lower-middle-income families with children up to 2 years old are also entitled to additional subsidies. Both the payments and the additional subsidies were made available beginning in August 2018. For families with children aged 2 to 4, the policy will go into effect in August 2019.