Off the Demographic Cliff

by John Derbyshire

Taiwan has now joined the select group of territories with Total Fertility Rate below 1.0.

(It’s a very select group: The only place thus listed by the CIA World Factbook is Macau. There is some variation in the TFR numbers depending on how they’re sourced, though. I have seen Singapore and Hong Kong both listed as below 1.0, though I can’t now find the references.)

Recall that 2.1 is replacement level, the figure you need to keep your population size constant. At 1.0 you’re only producing half as many babies as you need for stable population size.

There may be particular factors depressing this year’s numbers:

The government, however, blames the lower birth rate on superstition.

The year 2009 was considered an unlucky year to get married, and 2010 — the year of the tiger — a bad year to have children.

However, officials say this year is considered a lucky one as it is the country’s 100th anniversary. [I.e. the Republic of China, which is still Taiwan's official name for itself — J.D.]

Between January and July, the number of marriages rose more than 12% compared to the same period last year, and the number of births also shot up.

Next year, the year of the dragon, is especially auspicious for having children.

Maybe so, but don’t be looking for a Somalia-level TFR (that would be 6.35). On the bright side, don’t be looking for a Somalia-scale famine either.

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