TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Why are Taiwanese so happy “despite increasing economic pressure and military threats from China?”
The answer is good governance by the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and a surging economy based on semiconductors, according to the Data Center for Quality of Life Studies at Korea’s National Assembly Futures Institute. The center’s “National Happiness Focus” report, published June 29, looked at why Taiwan is trending gladness.
With a score of 6.512 points, Taiwan was ranked 26th in the United Nation’s 2022 World Happiness Report, released in March. This made it the happiest nation in Asia, above South Korea (59th), Singapore (27th), and China (72nd).
The report looked at 146 countries and regions, and its findings were based on seven factors:
- Perceptions of corruption
- Freedom to make life choices
- Healthy life expectancy
- Social support
- GDP per capita
While Finland has been ranked the happiest country for five years, Taiwan has steadily moved up the rankings. As pointed out in a Hankyoreh article, in 2013 Taiwan and South Korea both scored 6.2 points, and were in around 40th position out of about 146 countries or regions.
“But since then, the two countries have moved in different directions. Korea has slipped down in the rankings as its happiness indicators have tumbled, while Taiwan has continued to move higher and higher,” per Hankyoreh.
“According to this report, the shift occurred when power changed hands from the Chinese Nationalist Party, or Kuomintang, to the Democratic Progressive Party in 2016.”
The article continued to say that during the KMT years young people referred to Taiwan as a “ghost island” because of a brain drain and money going to China. After Tsai was elected Taiwan “began regaining its social and economic vitality, both through the adoption of a minimum wage and other pro-working-class policies and through strategic support for semiconductors and other key industries.”
Referencing the report, the media portal added that Taiwan’s exports have grown despite the COVID pandemic. While South Korea’s economy has stalled somewhat, Taiwan grew 3.1% in 2020 and 6.28% in 2021.
“A driving force behind that export bonanza is Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s top semiconductor foundry,” Hankyoreh said. It then predicted that Taiwan’s per capita GDP of US$33,775 in 2021 would soon overtake South Korea’s at US$34,801.
It also mentioned that the Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) government enjoyed high levels of trust because of its performance dealing with COVID. Furthermore, social freedoms have expanded, such as becoming the first Asian country to legalize same-sex marriage, plus moving up the freedom index rankings published by Freedom House, to seventh in the world last year.
The road ahead is bright, on the Danlan Old Trail in Shiding. (Taiwan News, Jules Quartly)