In a bid to boost its dwindling birth rate Taiwan plans to tempt prospective parents with birth incentives and child-care support payments worth $US1 billion.
The Economic Daily News said parents will be entitled to a minimum monthly subsidy of $3,000 (Taiwan) for each newborn up until two years old and an annual schooling stipend of $T30,000 for children aged two to six years.
It said the government hopes to encourage the public to have more children during the Year of the Dragon in 2012, which is considered the most auspicious year in the Chinese zodiac and a favourite birth sign for children.
Government data showed that fewer babies were born in 2010, which was a Year of the Tiger - one of the fiercest signs in Chinese astrology.
In the capital Taipei, births fell to an all-time low of fewer than 20,000 babies in 2009.
The average number of children born by Taiwanese women fell to 1.03 in 2009. In general, a birth rate of 2.1 children on average is needed, to prevent the population from shrinking.