With one of the world's lowest birth rates, Taiwan faces the prospect of a rapidly aging population without a young workforce to support it. The government is scrambling for solutions, with experts pushing measures such as workplace day care, tax breaks for parents and generous maternity leave. But for a generation of Taiwanese women who embraced higher education (more women than men have college degrees) and demanding careers, the age-old stigma of being unmarried has given way to a celebration of single life that government incentives won't easily overturn.


Government officials also are playing the patriotism card, proposing that children should be seen as a 'public asset.' Peter Hu, director of the National Immigration Agency, says parents create children not just for themselves, but for Taiwan. Such rhetoric seems unlikely to sway Taiwanese weighing the pros and cons of parenting. What's more, those college-educated women who do marry now don't do so until they're 32 on average, meaning their biological window to reproduce is relatively short. (By comparison, the average marrying age in Japan for women of all educational levels was 28.5 as of 2008.)

政府官员还在打爱国主义牌,提倡把孩子视为“公共财产”。台湾内政部入出国及移民署(National Immigration Agency)代理副署长胡景富说,父母生孩子不光是为自己,还是为台湾;但这种花言巧语似乎很难在台湾人权衡是否生孩子的问题时成为一种砝码。此外,有大学学历的台湾女性的平均结婚年龄为32岁,也就是说她们的生育适龄期相对缩短。(相比之下,截止到2008年,有大学学历的日本女性的平均结婚年龄为28.5岁。)

Some unattached female 30-somethings refer to themselves, half-joking, as 'loser dogs,' after a 2004 Japanese book on the same phenomenon in that country. In Taiwan, their spending power hasn't gone unnoticed: A real-estate company recently advertised a small, ritzy apartment as ideal for 'loser dogs.' This economic muscle is part of what gives women the freedom to embrace the single life.


'Women now have choices,' says Violeta Zhang, a 33-year-old accountant who says she plans to stay single. 'I can hang out with you, but I'm not bound to you. That's a choice.'


Family and friends often see the lifestyle as a phase and expect the singletons to settle down, and many singletons do insist they're not opposed to marriage, just determined not to commit until they find the right partner -- one who respects their independence and shares their life goals. Presumably that means not expecting a wife to stay home and put up with a meddling mother-in-law.