Taipei, Aug. 22 (CNA) The number of babies born in Taiwan in the first half of the year fell to the lowest in eight years for the same period, which was linked to a lack of job security among women, according to a health professional.
In the period January to June, 85,961 babies were born in Taiwan, down from 89,830 in the same period last year, data from the Ministry of the Interior shows.
Huang Ming-chao (黃閔照), secretary-general of the Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology, told CNA that the annual number of births is likely to fall below 180,000 this year if the trend continues.
According to Huang, most women are choosing their careers over having babies, which is one of the reasons why Taiwan's birth rate has been declining steadily.
Some women are worried that pregnancy and maternity leave would have a negative impact on their careers or that they would receive unfavorable treatment on the job when they return from maternity leave, he said.
Huang 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.
Meanwhile, among women who still wish to have children, many are delaying parenthood to a later age.
One in every five pregnant women in Taiwan is an elderly primigravida - a woman who is having her first child at the age of 35 or over, Huang said.
Elderly primigravida are more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular disease and have a higher risk of miscarriage than younger pregnant women, he said.
A survey conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2016, which was released in March this year, found that women in Taiwan have their first baby at the age of 27, on average.
A survey conducted by Health Promotion Administration (HPA), Ministry of Health and Welfare
Women with higher education tend to get married and have children later than average, according to the survey, which was conducted among women and men 20-49 years of age, married and single.
Among married couples with 0-1 child and no plans to have any more, 39 percent of the women and 51.6 percent of the men said they did not want more children because they were worried about the financial commitment, the poll found.
Within that same group, 15.2 percent of the women and 10.5 percent of the men said they were worried that they would not have the time or necessary assistance to raise a child, according to the survey.
Another 10.7 percent of women and 9.95 percent of men in the group said they were not confident of their ability to raise a child to become a functional and productive citizen, the poll found.
Authorities in Taiwan have been concerned about a shrinking population as a result of the country's low birth rate, as it would mean a strain on resources and the social fabric to support an aging population.