Written by Bonny Ling. Since late-July 2020, a diplomatic row has embroiled the governments of Indonesia and Taiwan over who in principle should pay the cost of recruitment for low-skilled workers seeking jobs abroad. To date, the industry norm is that low-skilled migrant workers pay these fees of recruitment or placement to labour brokers in their home country, months before they begin their work and see their first pay. In order to secure a job abroad, many borrow heavily to pay for these recruitment costs upfront.
Written by Kyoung M. Shin and Chan-Yuan Wong. As the initial shockwave ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to subsiding, it is imperative to start a more nuanced discussion about pertinent public policies. Even in countries such as Taiwan, who have thus far proven to be relatively more successful in stemming the tide, the government is still emphasising economic re-opening. It is often touted across the globe that Taiwan has been one of the more, if not the most, successful countries in combating COVID-19—and rightfully so. As of October 1, 2020, there has been a total of only 514 documented cases in Taiwan, most of which have been “imported.” While most countries around the world are still struggling to cope with the coronavirus, there has been no report of domestically contracted case in Taiwan since mid-April.
By Chan-Yuan Wong and Kyoung M. Shin. It is indisputable that Taiwan’s restrictive emergency policies have successfully brought the coronavirus under control and gave Taiwan the enviable status of a “virus-free haven.” Although one may argue that outcome should be used to measure “success” and “failure,” it is not the only criterion to evaluate public policies. Even from a purely economic efficiency point of view, how the outcome is achieved is equally important—that is, the measure of the associated costs and resource inputs. To effectively control the spread of the coronavirus, Taiwan has essentially taken a page out of its old “developmental state” playbook.
Written by Hsu Hung Bin.The history of doctor outflow in Taiwan tells us that doctors of all eras are continually reflecting on what it means to be in the medical profession and what the “good life” of a doctor is. The unique history of Taiwan’s medical system is an essential resource as we come to reflect on the issues of today. This history reminds about the diverse sets of values (not all of which have been good) that have existed within the system. It also provides clues of what a new system might look like.
Written by Hsu Hung Bin. The phrase “五大皆空” (all the key fields are lacking) has become common, referring to the lack of doctors in internal medicine, surgery, gynaecology, paediatrics and emergency care. There has also been discussion of the net outflow of doctors from Taiwan. All of this brought doubts to the once hopeful students as they began their medical education. I often hear students asking questions like “is the medical system here really going to collapse?” “Do we have to leave Taiwan and start a new life abroad?” “Did I make the right choice for my career”?
Taiwanese families look different than they did a couple of decades ago. Partnering behaviours have changed substantially, with young people increasingly choosing to postpone marriage and parenthood. The mean age of first marriage has risen to 32.6 for men and 30.4 for women as of 2019. Gains in opportunities outside of marriage – together with the increasing costs of raising children – mean that the traditional male-breadwinner family has lost its appeal to young women. This is especially the case for well-educated women. Even though the total fertility rate (TFR) has fallen at a rapid pace over the past few decades, childbirth remains strongly associated with marriage.
Written by Yen-hsin Alice Cheng. While family and social values are gradually becoming more liberal, more substantial changes in socially acceptable behaviours require more time. Hence, in addition to policies promoting childbearing, the Taiwanese Government should also consider how to sustain or improve citizens well-being, regardless of their union status, in an ultra-low fertility context. Research on the obstacles to fertility in East Asia mostly studied the married population, yet obstacles to marriage among the single population are perhaps equally important in this region.
Written by Pei-Chia Lan. My recent book, Raising Global Families: Parenting, Immigration, and Class in Taiwan and the US, started with a puzzle: Why do Taiwanese parents nowadays face even more intensified pressure, anxiety, and uncertainty, despite their expanded access to cultural resources, market services, and global mobility in comparison with the earlier generations?
Written by Ji-Ping Lin. Although ethnic integration had played a crucial role in promoting ethnic harmony, ethnic relations in Taiwan was typified by hates” outweighing “loves.” Nevertheless, such a situation changes in the late 1980s and the 1990s. Indeed, Taiwan’s political, socioeconomic, and cultural systems began experiencing several fundamental transitions; a transition from authoritarian to democratic polity, from a planned economy to globalised one, and from close to open and multi-culturalism society.
Written by Isabelle Cheng. [Migrant] men can’t produce babies, but women can. We can’t allow foreigners to give birth in Taiwan and breed more foreigners […] It is indeed inhumane to repatriate a pregnant woman. However, even permitted to give birth in Taiwan, she and her child would have to be deported eventually. It is even more inhumane to break her family and separate the child from the [Taiwanese] father after they’ve developed bonds (the Legislative Yuan, 17 April 1992, Taipei).
Written by Brian Hioe. Over the past four years, it has become a refrain of the Tsai administration to tout Taiwan’s increasing diversity. Namely, given increased immigration to Taiwan from Southeast Asia, one in ten children in Taiwan has a foreign parent. This is a fact that Tsai and members of her administration have taken to frequently citing, often during occasions in which Taiwan is visible on the international stage.
Written by Dorothy I-ru Chen. Ethnocentrism is often found in a highly homogenous society like Taiwan. There have been stereotypes and bias against new immigrant children over the years. Studies conducted in the early days suggested that these children’s academic achievements were lagging. Moreover, these studies failed to recognise the problem may lie within schools which are not capable of meeting the needs of children from diverse cultural backgrounds.