Taiwan births 'to hit 10-year high' in Year of Dragon

TAIPEI - The number of newborns in Taiwan during the auspicious Year of the Dragon is expected to hit a 10-year high, the government said Monday, as the island looks to boost 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.

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