Migration to Cold War Taipei
Despite the popularity of commuting to work in Cold War Taipei, there were also a large number of migrants. Many of these individuals were well educated young women who found ample opportunity for legitimate employment in companies associated with the manufacture of products for export, particularly textiles and electronics. These were precisely the two sectors encouraged by US officials and involving US multinational organizations.
Overall, there was no problem in supplying jobs to support the influx of rural migrants to the city. However, there were problems in providing jobs that were a match regarding expected income and education levels. The low unemployment rate and the rapid expansion of labor intensive industries masked the serious problem of underemployment.
Since a premium was placed on education, many white collar jobs were filled with overqualified applicants whose education and training weren’t suitable for their position. At the same time, there were often not enough well-trained skilled workers to fill the number of blue collar jobs available.
Net Migration to Taipei
Net migration to Taipei and surrounding areas accounted for 51% of the capital’s population growth between 1968 and 1972. The effective contribution made by in-migrants to the actual expansion of Taipei’s population during these years was 82%, 51% due to net migration and 31% due to births in the migrant community. Natural increase of lifetime city residents accounted for only 18% of the city’s growth during this timeframe.
In later years, the volume of migration was greater to the satellite centers emanating from the capital than to the city itself. This isn’t surprising for, despite the rapid growth of the 1960s and 1970s, the distribution of employment by sector remained relatively constant in the city with the percent employed in the industrial sector ranging from 32% to 38%.
The proportion of the population employed in industry in the rest of Taiwan increased from 21% in 1966 to 43% in 1984. This, of course, meant that many employment opportunities were to be found in areas peripheral to the capital. Since 1975, the proportion of the labor force employed in industry has been greater outside the city than within.
Satellite centers, in particular, have become major sites for the location of new industry, attracting many who found commuting an appealing alternative. So many workers chose this lifestyle that only 63% of those who worked within Taipei’s city limits had their legal residence there. Many of the others lived outside the city, traveling back and forth to work on a daily basis.
Associated with this group were some workers, mainly recent migrants, who considered themselves temporary residents, opting not to change their legal residence.
Fourteen percent of those who worked in Taipei kept their permanent residence in areas from which daily commuting would have been difficult — the central, southern, or eastern regions of the country.