A total of 151,411 babies were born in Taiwan in the first nine months of this year, down 2,630 or 1.7 percent from the same period last year, according to government statistics released Saturday.
The figure translates into a crude birth rate of 8.6 per 1,000 population, a decrease of 0.5 points from the previous year's level, Ministry of the Interior data showed.
Between January and September, Lienchiang County in Taiwan's outlying island group of Matsu had the highest crude birth rate at 8.9 per 1,000 population, while the lowest rate -- 4.1 per 1,000 population -- was recorded in Chiayi County.
Penghu County, meanwhile, saw the highest growth in crude birth rate at 0.5 points.
Among the six special municipalities of Taipei, New Taipei, Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung, all saw their crude birth rates decline, except for Taoyuan, which recorded a rise of 0.4 points.
During that period, seven in every 100 babies were born to a parent who is from China, Hong Kong, Macau or another country.
Over the last 10 years, the proportion of babies born to a mother from China, Hong Kong or Macau has decreased from 5.1 percent to 3.3 percent, and the proportion of those born to a mother from other countries has also dropped from 6.6 percent to 2.8 percent, according to the MOI.
This is believed to be due to a decline or slowdown in marriages between women from China or Southeast Asian countries and Taiwanese men during this period.
The reason for the drop in such marriages is believed to be linked to the fact that China and Southeast Asian countries, where many of Taiwan's overseas brides have traditionally come from, are seeing relatively high economic growth, providing more opportunities for its people, including women, and making it less attractive for them to marry Taiwanese men and move to Taiwan.
During the first nine months of this year, the sex ratio among newborns was 108.1 boys for every 100 girls, which represents a decrease of 0.2 boys from the year-earlier level.
The government has been making efforts in recent years to narrow the gender gap at birth by outlawing gender selective abortions and educating people to value having daughters.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel