¡@¡@Taiwan is an island of high population density.¡@ At the end of December 1996, the population was over 21 million, and 10 million were women, representing almost half of the whole population (48.6%).¡@ What is it like for women to live in Taiwan? ¡@What are the life and death rates in Taiwan for women in 1990s? ¡@This article tries to portray them from three dimensions: reproducing children, being married, and being a single mother in Taiwan.
Reproduction¡@¡@The birthrate has been decreasing every year since at least 1991. ¡@The sex ratio- the number of male to female babies is high. For example the ratio in 1997 was 105.5 and has been above 106 for a very long time.¡@ A reasonable number is considered 103.¡@ As a result, Taiwan will have a surplus of men in the next twenty years.¡@ According to a government survey, the average number of children a woman over fifteen might produce is 2.98, and the average age of her first birth is 23.66.
Marriage, Divorce and Widowhood¡@¡@In Taiwan, about 60% of the women over 15 are married, and about 30% are single. ¡@The other 10 % are divorced or widows.¡@ Although divorced women and widows are not the majority in 1996-- the percentage is 3.32% and 7.08% respectively and has been increasing every year. ¡]Table 1¡^¡@ Before 1976, the crude rate of divorce has been under 0.5%. The rate jumps to 1.68/000 in 1996 and on average there are 98 divorces every day. ¡]Table 2¡^ ¡@Generally speaking, women's life expectancy is higher than men's. ¡@ Consequently, the percentage of widows is much higher than that of widowers. ¡@Take the data of 1996 as an example, the former is 3.3 times of the latter. Of those between 70 to 74 years old the majority are widows (Table 1). ¡@Since the social insurance system in Taiwan only protected those who were in formal labor market, the women who worked at home, housewives and female farmers did not have medical insurance. For these workers there are not universal pensions or sufficient care centers for the aged. ¡@ Old widows can not maintain the basic living standards with a small insurance payment. ¡£RE: WELFARE¡¤ ¡@As a result, old widows often find themselves living in unsafe and meager economic situations.
The Single Parent Family¡@¡@How many single-parent families exist in Taiwan? ¡@It is difficult to estimate since the definitions of "single family" are different. ¡@However, research is gradually using similar definitions and their findings are similar. ¡@For example, the results of two surveys completed in 1992, found that the single-parent family comprised 6.5% and 7.5% of the population. ¡@ Experts favor the larger result. ¡@The facts also show that the percentage is increasing .
¡@¡@To be a single-parent is not easy, whether it be because of divorce or death. ¡@ There are many challenges: decreased income, increased responsibility for the children and the household, and coping with the emotional and psychological adjustment. ¡@No wonder single-parents are often very stressed. ¡@Single mothers between 30 to 44 years old usually have young children who need much attention and care, adding to the mother's stress. ¡@ Sixty percent of all divorced women ¡]Table 3¡^, fall under this category.
¡@¡@How much help do these single mothers get from the formal support system? ¡@Less than single fathers get. ¡@Due to the stereotype of divorced women, the reluctance of employers to hire them, and the lack of quality child care centers, the rate of working single mothers is only 27.6%, while that of single fathers is 49.6%.¡]Table 12¡^
¡@¡@As a result, single mothers have to struggle if they want to earn their living. ¡@The possibility for single mothers to become the poor is between 20% to 25%. ¡@Even for the non-single parent families in which women are the main breadwinners, the estimated opportunity is 17% to 19%. ¡]Table 28¡^
ConclusionThe success of the family planning policy has reduced the population growth, the pressure for women to produce children, and the sex ratio. ¡@Today, most of the adult women in Taiwan still choose to marry, but there increasingly more divorced women and widows who need more social support to handle their economic difficulties and pressures in daily life.
The Report on Women's Status in Taiwan, 1998 Health Legal Status Welfare Resources Political Involvement Education Physical Safety Working Status Population and Family Statistics Related to the Women's Status Report¡@
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