The Security Problem with Taiwan's Demographic Challenges
Like other post-industrial economies—including several in East Asia—Taiwan's population is projected to begin declining and aging within the next few years. The implications will reach every part of Taiwan's society, including its defense. The Ministry of National Defense (MND) has transitioned the military to a smaller, all-volunteer force (AVF), in part due to its anticipating the shrinking pool of potential recruits. Whether the MND can attract enough recruits and maintain its reserves amid budget pressures remains a concern. Addressing the population problem will require continuing adjustment of social policies, but to bolster the defense establishment in the near term, Taiwan's leaders will need to look for creative solutions. Whether Taiwan is able to maintain a ready defense force is important not only for Taiwan but for many international partners who face similar demographic outlooks.
This article was originally published within CSIS's "Perspectives on Taiwan: Insights from the 2019 Taiwan-U.S. Policy Program" in January 2020. Pamela Kennedy was a participant in CSIS's 2019 Taiwan-U.S. Policy Program, in which she had the opportunity to travel across Taiwan and analyze the security implications of Taiwan's demographic challenges, among many other topics. Read the full piece here.