Taiwan’s economy hasn’t been doing too well, and here’re some bleak news to bolster this fact. Firstly, this news says that Taiwan salaries have actually decreased from 1998! It matches what I heard from a family friend from Taiwan who said that entry-level salaries have dropped since he started working (20-something years ago).
Then this report describes young Taiwanese going to Singapore as contract low-wage workers, putting them in a similar status as low-paid SE Asian workers (Filipinos, Indonesians, Thais) who come to Taiwan and Hong Kong on contracts. It’s very ironic considering how some Taiwanese look down on SE Asians since they only know them as manual laborers and maids. It’d be something if Singaporeans start thinking of Taiwanese only as lowly service staff. More than that though, it’s both embarrassing and a damning indictment of Taiwan’s economy, given that it’s GDP per capita is above US$20,000 which should mean it’s a solidly middle-income nation. Instead, Taiwan youth would rather go abroad to work in low-level contract service jobs in Singapore or farms or factories in Australia or New Zealand (on those working holiday visas) rather than stay and contribute to their home society.
However, the cost of living in Taiwan is quite low and social support, such as the national health care system, is quite good. Perhaps low salaries are a sacrifice that Taiwanese need to bear in order to maintain such a standard of living. On the other hand, perhaps higher costs, and higher salaries, would be a way of spurring Taiwanese on, because one thing I find is that Taiwan people always like things cheap (which admittedly I, and many of us probably do) and they seem to think everything should be cheap. Taiwan firms and businessmen should not be exempt from the blame either. The “cheap is good” concept applies both to how they run companies, especially the salaries they pay. I’ve experienced this at all the places I worked in Taiwan and it resulted in situations like high employee turnover, low morale, and pitiful marketing.