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Premier outlines varied approach to countering declining birth rates

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Following a presentation at Thursday's Cabinet meeting by the Ministry of Education on strategies to respond to declining birth rates in Taiwan, Premier Lai Ching-te outlined a multi-pronged approach involving a number of concrete measures to address the issue. The proposals include expanding public child care and preschools, using public funds to subsidize quality private child care and preschool, further extending childrearing subsidies, and encouraging businesses to establish child care arrangements for employees.

In pursuing the goals of boosting wages for child care workers, implementing quality standards for child care services, raising birth rates, and ensuring that all children receive equal treatment, the government hopes to build a friendly environment for raising children and lighten the burden on parents.

Fewer than 200,000 babies were born in Taiwan in 2017, bringing the total fertility rate to 1.13, the third lowest rate in the world above only Singapore and Macau. President Tsai Ing-wen has designated the shift toward fewer children a matter of national security and instructed the Executive Yuan to develop appropriate strategies and solutions. As multiple factors underlie the trend, the government has put forth a wide range of policies in response.

The MOE's plan will be applied uniformly across the country, offering equal levels of child care stipends and day care subsidies to create a nationwide incentive for childbirth and childrearing, the premier said.

Implementation will begin outside of special municipalities, while special municipalities will receive assistance in building stronger fiscal foundations to enable local governments to budget funds for setting up facilities and speeding the pace of development in their jurisdictions.

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