The Implementation of Social Welfare Policy in Taiwan: Regarding Single Parent Families

  •  Jing-Houng Kuo    
  •  Yung-Yi Tang    
  •  Kueiling Chiu    


Within members of the global village, affluent or poor nations alike, the family structure has undergone a dramatic change. Taiwan is no exception. In the past, the traditional Taiwanese family secures social order by fusing social forces adhesively. However, accompanied with economic development, feminist movement and population immigration, the traditional Taiwanese family structure has undergone a dramatically change. The traditional family has faced colossal challenges; the increased unwedded mothers, sky-high divorce rate, separated family due to parents working in the both side of the Taiwan Strait. All of these contribute towards making the single parent family as a “social fact” in the trend of Taiwan social change.
Unlike other countries, the ratio of single parent family with male headed families has been relatively high in Taiwan. A 2001 nationwide survey of 3500 single parent families in Taiwan indicates that the ratio of male headed and female headed single parent families respectively is close to 1:1, and the economic condition has no significant difference. Furthermore, since the remarried rate of parents in the single parent family is low (in 2007 the divorce rate in Taiwan was 2.5/1000, the remarried rate for male was 27.1/1000, for female was 11.2/1000), more than half of surveyed single parent families have lived in such structure more than five years. It shows that the lifestyle of single parent family in Taiwan has become commonplace. 
Two distinctive characteristics of Taiwanese single parent family are the high ratio of (1) covert single parent family due to a conservative culture regarding separation being better than divorce; (2) three generation family with grandparents, single parent, and children becomes the most significant social support network of single parent family. Follow this line of thinking, Taiwanese social policy of single parent family should be planned to adjust to the special cultural needs of single parent families in Taiwan like single parent family living with grandparents. However, Taiwanese government has not yet implemented such policy and establishes various social aids for eliminating poverty. These unstructured aids have focused generally on single parent family with mother only while most single parent families relied on un-official and non-organizational support.
This study has suggested that the government should actively construct comprehensive family-focused policy and support network among single parent families to provide services to reduce their heavy housework and work load and explore different needs of various single families.

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