TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Monday (March 14) promoted the city's cash lottery program for newlyweds as the percentage of residents aged 40 and over who are still unmarried has risen to 35%.
Over the past 20 years, the percentage of unmarried Taipei residents has risen from 12% to 35%, exceeding one-third of the population, which has fallen below the 2.5-million mark, reported UDN. On Monday, Ko attended the award ceremony for the marriage lottery at Taipei City Hall, where he handed out a check for NT$50,000 (US$1,700) to 10 winning couples.
To qualify for the lottery, couples must have married this year and both be residents of Taipei. Ten cash prizes of NT$50,000 are awarded every month, with five cash prizes of NT$100,000 handed out every quarter and 10 cash prizes of NT$200,000 up for grabs this year.
During the event, Ko said Taiwan's low birthrate has become a "national security issue," and he asserted that the main reason for this is the low percentage of young people willing to get married. He said that although no one will get married just for a NT$50,000 check, he expressed hope such events can help young people recognize this "national security crisis" and develop a social advocacy movement.
According to Taipei City Government statistics, the number of newlywed couples decreased from 18,821 in 2012 to 15,193 in 2018. That number dropped to 14.834 in 2019, and in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, only 12,756 couples were wed. In 2021, the number of newlywed couples dipped further to 11,313.
Ko revealed that he is worried his own children will not get married: "Speaking of my inner fears... (my eldest son) is already 30 years old." He noted that marriages have continued to decline during the pandemic and expressed concern that this downward trend will continue even after the pandemic is over.