Poverty in Taiwan has almost been eradicated, with less than 1 percent of the population (129,968 people or 56,720 households) considered as poor or belonging to the low-income bracket. This means that more than 99 percent of the population enjoys the benefits of Taiwan's economic prosperity and greatly improved quality of life.
Families are classified as belonging to the low-income bracket if their average monthly income does not reach the estimated monthly minimum set by each city or province. To meet the family's basic needs (food, shelter, clothing, and education) in Taipei City, one would need to earn at least US$337 monthly. This amount changes depending on the city's standard of living; for example, one would only need to earn US$171 monthly to live in Kinmen County.
In 1999, the government spent US$5.08 billion on social welfare programs, and offers many kinds of assistance to individuals and families from low-income groups. In addition to cash, job-placement assistance is provided to the wage earners in families, along with educational aid for school-age children and health programs for mothers and children. There are also civic organizations, academic institutions, and private foundations that
GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000
Taiwan 920 14,200 16,500 16,100 17,400
United States 28,600 30,200 31,500 33,900 36,200
China 2,800 3,460 3,600 3,800 3,600
Singapore 21,200 24,600 26,300 27,800 26,500
Note: Data are estimates.
SOURCE: Handbook of the Nations , 17th,18th, 19th and 20theditions for 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 data; CIA World Factbook 2001 [Online] for 2000 data.
coordinate with government agencies in assisting displaced or disadvantaged citizens.
Aside from low-income families, the government gives support to people, such as the elderly and the handicapped, who are unable to work. In July 1993, the government began providing a monthly subsidy to the low-income elderly. Citizens over the age of 65 whose average family income is less than, or equal to, 1.5 times the minimum monthly expenses are qualified to receive a monthly subsidy of US$174. Elderly people whose average family income is between 1.5 and 2.5 times the minimum expense are eligible for a monthly relief subsidy of US$87. In addition, the government pays the health insurance premium in full for low-income households and emergency aid where needed.