This essay will talk about the current socioeconomic condition of Taiwan. While I do think that the problem Taiwan face is pretty much similar to other developed countries, the numbers used here are from the current condition of Taiwan. The word "low-paid ghost island (低薪鬼島)" is also how the Taiwanese people call Taiwan itself.
The highlight here is about The Four Asian Tigers. They are the first four newly industrialized countries in Asia, consisting of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. Even though they are called "Tiger" in English, they are called "Dragon" in Chinese as a dragon is considered better than a tiger in Chinese culture.
Taiwanese workers are struggling. The salaries of fresh people in Taiwan are about the same as they were 20 years ago. Although there is a rise in the price, Taiwan’s commodity price increase offsets the increase in wages, which means that the salary has not changed at all. This situation makes the life of young people not easy. In addition, the aging and declining birth rate of Taiwan is becoming more and more serious, increasing the responsibility of the young people in Taiwan. Is Taiwan really a "low-paid ghost island"?
Let us give an example; a fresh person from Taiwan. The average salary in Taiwan is 33,000 NTD. Assuming the rent is around 8,000, leaving 25,000. The food cost is about 10,000, the transportation fee is 1,500, and the utility fee and communication fee are 2,500, leaving 11,000. After deducting consumer spending, the average monthly income is only 11,000 NTD, which is very small for the Taiwanese. If you have to pay for school loans, leisure and entertainment, and filial piety, then it will possibly become a Moonlight Clan.
Taiwan’s housing prices are also really not catching up. In these 20 years, Taiwan’s salary has only grown by 15%, but because Taiwan’s area is small, house prices have risen by as much as 139%, and the difference is huge. Such a small monthly balance, compared with the increase in housing prices, has made Taiwanese youths very worried about the future. Waves upon waves have escaped from Taiwan and have moved to work in different places. What about the young people who stay in Taiwan? Some people have caused another problem in Taiwan because they feel that marriage will be more difficult: sub-replacement fertility.
The sub-replacement fertility of Taiwan is becoming more and more serious. The fertility rate has been declining year by year; it is currently the lowest third or fourth in the world. What is the reason? There are two reasons: The first is because more and more Taiwanese are concerned about freedom, so they don't pay much attention to marriage. Marriage inevitably deprives both parties of their freedom. In addition, it is very hard to take care of the elderly, and to take care of the other half of the parents, is it not different from suicide? The second is because married couples do not necessarily have to have children. Couples who are Sandwich Generations will definitely take on more pressure. They not only have to raise children, but also take care of their parents, not to mention financial aspects.
I am not sure about this thing. Why has this one of the four Asian tigers become like this? Is it because the industry has not transformed? Or that the level of education is not high enough? Reduced talent competitiveness? Or is it because the cross-strait relations are getting worse? In the past, Taiwan’s salary growth was very stable, and finished products were exported to the United States and Mainland China. However, more and more mainland companies are competing to produce the same products, which has forced Taiwanese companies to cut costs, including wages. However, for me, the current problem in Taiwan is not necessarily due to the influence of the mainland. I believe that the social and political aspects of Taiwan's own country must also have a great impact. However, this depends on the Taiwanese own thoughts.
The influence of Mainland China on the world is growing, and the power of Taiwan is getting smaller and smaller. From this urgent crisis, can our low-paid ghost islands recover, reinvent themselves, and become Asian tiger again?
Or do you need the "help" of the "Big Dragon"?
- 調漲 - tiáo zhǎng - increase
- 漲幅 - zhǎng fú - the amount of increase
- 高齡化 - gāo líng huà - the aging population
- 少子化 - shǎo zǐ huà - sub-replacement fertility, declining birth (population)
- 餘額 - yú é - remainder (money)
- 學貸 - xué dài - student loan
- 月光族 - yuè guāng zú - Moonlight Clan, those who used their whole monthly income and have no savings.
- 結餘 - jié yú - cash surplus
- 前仆後繼 - qián pū hòu jì - waves upon waves
- 逐年 - zhú nián - year after year
- 剝奪 - bō duó - strip off
- 上有老，下有小 - shàng yǒu lǎo, xià yǒu xiǎo - sandwich generation
- 四小龍 - sì xiǎo lóng - Four Asian Tigers
- 海峽兩岸關係 - hǎi xiá liǎng àn guān xi - cross-strait relation (between Mainland China and Taiwan)
- 削減 - xuējiǎn - cut down
Photo by Tom Ritson