The problem of low birth rate has raised its head in Taiwan as well where the island’s military recruitment capabilities are being hit. The problem is same in several other East Asian nations and becomes a bigger issue for Taiwan at the moment amid its efforts to build a force to defend against a Chinese invasion.
Social and economic effects of a low birth rate are apparent in other countries, but in Taiwan it is having an impact on military personnel levels. In a report to Taiwan’s legislative yuan this week, the interior ministry said the number of new conscripts in 2022 would be the lowest level in a decade.
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The reports says that the number of people estimated to be over the age of 18 fell from 138,000 in 2017 to 118,000 in 2022.
“If the number of young people who will be 18 years old in the next few years is estimated, based on the year of birth and the number of babies, there will be a sharp drop, which shows that the recruitment of various volunteer recruitment units will face huge challenges in the future,” it said.
Some reports also suggest that the length of mandatory military service for young men is expected to be increased from the current four months. Taiwan’s military is a mix of volunteer force combined with male conscripts. But in March, the number of volunteers recruited reached only 85.3 per cent of its target.
Taiwan has one of the world’s lowest birthrates which is witnessing a further fall . In 2021, Taiwan witnessed a record low of 153,820 registered births. In 2011, there were 196,627.
The low scale of salary is also a major deterrent for youngsters, besides the fact that the policy ages people out of active duty at 45.
Retention of volunteer soldiers came to the forefront as a major problem in 2021. The military said about 20 per cent of new volunteer soldiers turned out to be unfit for duty and leave training early.
Among special combat units there was “a gap between the actual number of volunteers and the target set in the recruitment system plan”, it said. This left some units at below 80 per cent capacity.
(With inputs from agencies)