In Year of Dragon Taiwan Births 'To Hit 10-year High'
The Taiwanese government said that the number of newborns in Taiwan during the auspicious Year of the Dragon is expected to hit a 10-year high. The island is looking forward to boosting its low birth rate.
Vice Premier Jiang Yi-hua, chair of a government task force on population policy, forecast 230,000 births by the end of the year.
Taiwan's birth rate hit a record low in 2010, plunging close to the bottom of the global rankings with 7.2 births per 1,000 people, a total of 166,886 newborns overall.
And until last year, when 196,627 babies were born, the rate had been falling continuously since 2000 -- the last Year of the Dragon -- amid growing concerns that a declining labour force could erode the economy.
The Year of the Dragon, which started on January 23, is considered the most auspicious year in the Chinese zodiac and a favourite birth sign for children, and fears remain that birth rates will drop again next year.