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Is It Good to Be Single? Why Young People Won’t Get Married? Fertility Rate of Taiwan is at the Bottom of the World

by Amélie Poulain
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Under the influence of modernization and industrialization, late marriage, non-marriage, and low fertility rates are inevitable phenomena, but they also bring many derived problems. For example, living alone or being single for a long time will affect the physical and mental health of people. When the number of deaths exceeds the number of births, the total population of the country will show negative growth, the population structure will tend to age, and the future dependency ratio will be more difficult.


Whether to get married or not has become an important choice issue in modern times. (Photo via pexels.com)

Taipei, TAIWAN (Merxwire) – A recent study published in JECH found that men who lived alone for many years and who had more frequent and experienced partner breakups had higher rates of cancer and cardiovascular disease and a lower age of death. Another study published in the British Medical Journal also found that men who lived alone for several years or experienced several broken relationships had an inflammatory marker called “IL-6” and “CRP” in their blood tended to be high. As a result, the risk of developing cancer, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes increases.

The study, published in the journal JECH, surveyed 4,853 people between the ages of 48 and 62 and found that men were at greater risk of developing the disease. The study of “British Medical Journal” study also found that female subjects didn’t have higher levels of inflammatory markers. The results of the study showed that subjects who had experienced a higher number of breakups had the highest inflammatory markers, 17% higher than the control group, and 12% higher in subjects who had lived alone for seven years or more. The study also found that after the breakdown of the partnership, men are more likely to “externalize” their feelings on external behaviors such as smoking and alcoholism, so they will have a more serious inflammatory reaction; women tend to “internalize” their emotions, so they will easily have physical and mental symptoms such as depression. 

The many hidden risks of living alone also show that the probability of being single or living alone is increasing day by day, and it has an impact on the mental health of both men and women but has a significantly greater impact on men’s subsequent physical health. The population and housing census released by the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, Executive Yuan in Taiwan found that in the past 30 years, Taiwan’s population trends have changed significantly from the past in four major changes, including an increase in the number of single-person households, divorce at a mature age, loneliness among mature women, and late marriage phenomenon. Various official and research statistics also confirm the social trend of late marriage, non-marriage, or having no children.

  • The proportion of the unmarried population: Statistics from the Department of Household Registration found that the proportion of the unmarried population aged 25 to 44 in Taiwan was 14.4% in 1980, 26.8% in 2000, and 43.2% in 2020. The increase rate is quite high. The trend of late marriage is very obvious. This trend has also had a dramatic impact on fertility, with births falling from 410,000 in 1980 to 165,000 in 2020.
  • The proportion of single-person households: The latest data from the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics shows that the number of single-person households with only one person in the household registration has increased from 1.63 million in 2010 to 2.085 million in 2020, which is equivalent to a ten-year increase of 27.9%, nearly Thirty percent.
  • Marriage rate: Since 2015, the marriage rate has been declining year by year, from 150,000 couples married in 2015, declining to137,000 couples in 2017, and to 120,000 couples in 2020, the lowest in 11 years. By 2021, it hit a new low again. At the end of November, there were only 101,475 pairs of marriages. If same-sex marriages were deducted, there were less than 100,000 opposite-sex marriages. According to statistics from the Ministry of the Interior, due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, the number of marriages has decreased by about 8%.
  • Age at first marriage: In 2001, the average age at first marriage was 30.8 for men and 26.4 for women in Taiwan. By 2020, the age of first marriage for men in Taiwan will increase to 32.3 years old and for women it will be 30.3 years old. It can also be said that both men and women should consider marriage after they are over 30 years old.
  • Marriage rate: According to the data analyzed by the Department of Household Registration at the end of 2020, the overall marriage rate of aged 20 to 49 in Taiwan is 41.95%. Among them, the marriage rate of males is lower than the overall ratio, about 38.3%, and the proportion of women is higher than the overall ratio, about 45.6%. It can be seen that the marriage rate continues to decrease, the number of married persons has become a minority, and the unmarried has become a trend.
People in Taiwan currently tend to not marry or marry later. (Photo via pexels.com)

The crisis of marriage and childbirth, the bottom of the fertility rate, and the negative growth of the population

  • Late marriage will first lead to changes in family and social structure, directly impacting the fertility rate. Late marriage prevents men and women from having children in their healthy period, widening the age gap between parents and children, which in turn affects the educational function of the family and the dependency ratio, and may encounter an age generation gap. Older age at the time of childbirth will also affect the ability and willingness to continue childbearing, so it will face the problem of low birthrate and the problem of parental care after aging. Such a care structure will also affect the children’s willingness to marry in the future because they have to take care of the elderly. It’ll be difficult for them to bear another family. Therefore, the marriage rate is the first important key to increase.

  • In the CIA’s Global Fertility Estimate Report, Taiwan’s estimated total fertility rate is 1.07, ranking last. This data shows that a woman in Taiwan will only have 1.07 children in her lifetime. Evolving from falling marriage rates to falling fertility rates, or even ranking last among 227 countries, will be a nationally important crisis. Although in the process of national economic development, the age of marriage will be delayed due to reasons such as industrialization, changes in women’s status, longer education time, and higher cost of childbirth. The long-term fertility rate will also decline, but the total fertility rate in developed countries should still be maintained above 2 to avoid future population declines and negative population growth. Taiwan has also begun to experience a crisis of negative population growth. Attaches great importance to spiritual value and pursues a simple, natural, and balanced life.

  • Under the influence of late marriage, non-marriage and marriage rate, in addition to affecting the fertility rate, it has also caused Taiwan to experience negative population growth for the first time in 2020, that is the number of deaths exceeds the number of newborns. In 2020, the number of deaths is more than 173,000, and the number of births is more than 165,000. The number of deaths is 17,000 more than the number of births. After entering 2021, the negative population growth situation is even more serious. From January to May, the monthly number of deaths is 2-3 thousand higher than the number of births. Among them, the number of births in January was the lowest in 27 years, with fewer than 10,000 births. And the number of births, the number of women, and the marriage rate are all at record lows.

  • In addition to the influence of various domestic social factors, the reasons for the negative population growth are also affected by the COVID-19 epidemic. Under the epidemic, some industries have been greatly impacted, and people do not know when they will be able to return to normal life. In times of economic instability, people’s willingness to marry and have children declines. Another reason is the impact of household registration regulations. Because some people cannot return to Taiwan due to the epidemic, Taiwan’s regulations stipulate that as long as they have been out of the country for more than 2 years, the household registration agency can register their household registration as moving out of the country. Therefore, the social population decreases for the first time in nearly ten years in 2020. In 2021 it reduced 156,000 people at a time.
Taiwan society is facing a serious crisis of marriage and childbirth, which has caused negative population growth. (Photo via pexels.com)

More men than women, gender ratio crisis 

In addition to the aforementioned social trends, scholars have also raised another issue worthy of attention, that is the female population of childbearing age is declining year by year, and in terms of gender, males are significantly higher than females. At the same time, the sex ratio of babies born in Taiwan, with more males than females, has become more pronounced in the past five years. The average has reached 107%, even as high as 121% in Lianjiang County and 115% in Taitung, indicating that the female population is shrinking. In 2016, a survey by the Health Promotion Administration found that 49% of married men and 43% of married women agreed with the concept of “both boy and girl are good for newborns, and let it be”. The concept of patriarchal preference still exists, and in a society with fewer births, the phenomenon of more men than women will become more apparent. Therefore, in terms of the total population, although there are currently more women than men, in terms of age distribution, the age range where the number of women is higher than that of men is concentrated in those over 40 years old. Such uneven distribution is indeed a major concern. More men of marriageable age cannot find a partner.

The sex ratio of babies born in Taiwan is obviously more boys than girls, and girls are becoming more and more rare. (Photo via Merxwire)

Why people do not want to get married? Why they don’t want the kids? 

According to a survey conducted by the Taiwan Social Research Institute in 2021, 71.4% of unmarried men under the age of 35 are willing to marry, and 69.3% of women are willing to marry. Therefore, about 30% of people do not want to get married, especially women. Why would you rather be single than get married? Why even if you get married, you don’t necessarily want to have children or just want one child.

  1. Worry about not being able to marry or raise children

    Even if Taiwan continues to introduce new policies to encourage fertility, from infertility treatment, paid maternity leave, parental leave pay ratio to an increase in childcare allowances, it cannot significantly increase the fertility rate. The main reason is that the average salary is not high. Housing prices and childcare expenses are too expensive. If you don’t have a certain amount of savings, or if you have an elderly person to support or a mortgage to pay, you will have the idea of being unable to afford the expenses of marriage or childcare, and will naturally give up the idea of marriage or childbirth.

  2. Society and ideas had changed

    Social changes and changing attitudes are also important factors affecting the marriage rate and fertility rate. The National Development Council analyzed that the high unmarried rate in Taiwan, in addition to economic factors, has an absolute relationship with the advancement of women’s status. Women’s education level and employment opportunities have improved, their autonomy has become higher, and marriage is no longer a necessary option. The convenience of life also reduces the degree of dependence brought by marriage. As long as there are people who can accompany you, you do not necessarily need to get married. If your siblings have children, you can maintain a single or dual-income childless family and society will accept it.

  3. Can’t find a suitable object

    “It’s not that I can’t get married, it’s just that I don’t want to get married” is a classic line that often appears in Japanese dramas, fully expressing the new thinking of not getting married without a suitable partner. Not just financial or job requirements, but also a lot of your conditions and desires for your spouse. When the right person does not appear for a long time, and you unconsciously delay the marriageable age, marriage will become a later option in your life. Mary C. Brinton, a professor of contemporary Japanese sociology at Harvard University, in an interview with The New York Times, mentioned: “In Japan, if you don’t plan to have children, there are not many reasons to get married.” At present, the culture of Taiwan is still more conservative. It is not as good as in Europe and the United States that there is a culture of not getting married but having children, so not getting married is almost equal to not having children.

  4. Interpersonal stagnation stage

    There is also a special phenomenon in Taiwan that is restricted and influenced by parents. During the schooling stage, parents often limit their children’s schedule and time for making friends and living arrangements for further education. Coupled with the lengthening of education years, the next generation misses the opportunity for learning and interaction in interpersonal relationships. When it comes to the working stage, it is usually encouraged to actively engage in work first, to miss the important social age again. Once the marriageable age is reached or passed, parents will turn to support their children to get married. This kind of fractured education method makes it more difficult for children to find a suitable partner, and often they can only choose blind dates.

  5. Other socio-environmental factors

    Other factors that will affect the willingness to have children include negative thoughts about the future, thinking that modern society is more complicated, and worrying that children will become bad persons or unable to adapt to modern life. There are still traditional concepts in society that make women worry about having children in the future will become their own responsibility. People with busy work or long working hours are worried that they will not have time to accompany or take care of their children in the future, so it is better not to give birth. With stress and lifestyle changes, people will have difficulty conceiving or an increased chance of infertility.

The irreplaceability and sense of value of marriage have a decreasing trend in modern society. (Photo via pexels.com)

The rational aspect of marriage is more like a conditional theory. We will set many restrictions and screen them one by one, and there is no need to get married. The emotional aspect of marriage is to meet the right person, but it requires some fate and luck and the courage to pursue it bravely. Parenting is a huge responsibility that takes time, money, and effort. Am I suitable for marriage? Am I able to raise a child? I hope everyone can think from a more flexible and open perspective. In 2017, the rate of illegitimate children among all newborns in the European Union reached 43%, and the rate of illegitimate children in France ranked first, reaching 60%. I am not advocating having children out of wedlock, but perhaps there is not necessarily an equal sign between marriage and parenting.

Seeing more of the good side of marriage and family is the cure for the root cause. Good family life has the potential to cure the increasing loneliness of modern society. Otherwise, we must face many problems existing in the reality of infertility and no marriage. The National Development Council estimates that the population in Taiwan will decline by a certain percentage by 2070, and the dependency ratio will also climb to 102.0, which means that every working-age population must bear one dependent population. We will face two tests. One test is The population structure continues to age, and the proportion of young and middle-aged people will gradually decline. Another test is the decrease in the number of newborns and the population base. This double-cycle pressure will become a major crisis for society in the future.

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