To boost up a birth rate that is one of the lowest in the world, Taiwan has offered subsidized babysitting, reports an official.
Those who have three children, with one aged under two, will receive a monthly babysitting subsidy of 3,000 Taiwan dollars (94 dollars) from next year, said Chang Hsiu-yuan, director of the Child Welfare Bureau.
From 2012 the interior ministry will also give low-income families 5,000 Taiwan dollars per month for each child until it turns two, she said, in an initiative estimated to cost 1.18 billion Taiwan dollars a year.
The average number of children Taiwanese women have fell to 1.03 last year and the government is hoping to boost the number to around 1.3, Chang said.
In general, every woman needs to give birth to 2.1 children on average, merely to prevent the population from shrinking.
Government data showed that fewer babies have been born so far in 2010, which is a Year of the Tiger, as some parents are anxious to avoid having children under one of the fiercest signs of the Chinese zodiac.
"Taiwan's birth rates are expected to fall further this year because it's the Year of the Tiger, so we hope the incentives will encourage couples to have more babies," she said.
Taiwan's authorities have been offering various incentives to try to boost birth rates, amid growing concerns that a severe manpower shortage will trigger serious social and economic problems.
The island's capital Taipei, where birth rates dived to an all-time low in 2009 with fewer than 20,000 babies born, will start paying couples 20,000 Taiwan dollars for every newborn from next year.
Last year 191,310 babies were born in Taiwan, down 3.74 percent from the previous year.