Monday, December 5, 2011

Fresh Facts V: The decline of farming

According to Taiwan: A New History, edited by Murray A. Rubinstein:

"The number of farm households fell from 51% in 1953 to less than 20% in 1990 as agriculture's share of the net domestic product decreased from 34% to only 4% [it's now something like 1.7%]. The dispersal of industry into Taiwan's villages has been a critical factor in this transition, at once raising farm household income... also making it possible for farmers to retain their residence in the countryside."

Nowadays many of Taiwan's small villages are dominated by elderly people, almost everyone aged 18 to 45 having moved away to study or work. Few Taiwanese, it seems, like living in a village and commuting to work. If anything, the reverse is more common. A great many people live in cities (because the schools are better, they say) even if they work in fairly rural places. South Taiwan Science-based Industrial Park in Tainan is a good example: Most of the engineers who work there live in downtown Tainan, not in nearby towns where housing is cheaper.

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