Written by Ming-shan Lee. Although single-parent families are increasingly common in Taiwan, this family-structure generally remains under-discussed in the public discourse and – if discussed – is framed negatively. Such stigma confounds other challenges that these families already face. Through family interviews, I have been trying to understand better the experience of such pressures, stigma and challenges.
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?