Pedestrians wait at a bus stop near Taipei Main Station in Taipei, Taiwan. (Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg)

State-Run Dating Service Is Taiwan's Solution to Aging Society

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan hopes to tackle the most pressing of first-world problems through increased government intervention in people’s love lives.

The interior ministry says it will organize more official match-making events in 2018 as part of a push to reverse a rapid aging of Taiwan’s 24 million people.

The island recorded more deaths than births in March for a second straight month, and government data released Tuesday show Taiwan officially became an “aged society” last month, with more than 14 percent of the population 65 or older. Only Japan, where 28 percent are in the 65-and-over club, has a higher proportion of elderly people in East Asia.

State-Run Dating Service Is Taiwan's Solution to Aging Society

Government-sponsored dating events are just one of a series of measures aimed at addressing the problem in Taiwan, where long work hours, stagnant wages and a lack of affordable housing and child care are the main obstacles couples face when considering having children. Officials are also moving to provide more social housing for young people and promoting immigration as a way to tilt the population back to youth.

“We’re giving singles the opportunity to meet,” Jair Lan-pin, deputy head of Taiwan’s department of civil affairs, said in an interview. “Some go on to get married and invite the minister to their weddings.”

The interior ministry -- which advertises matchmaking events on a website filled with pictures of flowers and statues holding hands -- first started organizing them in 2010. Between 2011 and 2012, 36 couples got married after meeting at these events, according to a ministry statement.

But Yang Wen-shan, a sociologist at Taipei-based Academia Sinica isn’t optimistic. “Because Taiwan is small and densely populated, the government never saw slowing population growth as a problem,” Yang said. “The government recognized this problem too late.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.