TAIPEI: Taiwan's population could start falling by 2017, a decade earlier than previously estimated, after the island's birth rate dropped to the world's lowest level, a report says.
Statistics show that, on average, less than one child is born per woman in Taiwan.
Last year only 200,000 babies were born on the island, and the population, which currently stands at 23 million, is projected to plateau seven years from now, the United Daily News reported yesterday. An earlier forecast from the Council for Economic Planning and Development said this would not happen until 2027, according to the paper.
The normal replacement rate for a population is 2.1 births per woman.
Taiwan's Government has been offering various incentives in an unsuccessful bid to boost fertility rates amid growing concerns that a severe manpower shortage will trigger more economic woes.
Officials also fear declining student numbers may force some colleges to close.