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26 Jun, 2007 19:38

Patriotic duty remunerated

As Russia faces a demographic crisis governors in the Ulyanovsk region are doing their bit to raise the birth rate – they are offering prizes to encourage mothers to do their patriotic duty.

Russia's population is shrinking at a dramatic rate.

Compared to the West, Russia's statistics are stark. Russia has 9.95 births per every 1,000 people, but a death rate of 14.65. This has led to the population declining by 700,000 per year.

The U.S. has a higher birth rate of 14 and a lower death rate of 8.2, leading to a healthy population growth.

In Russia's Ulyanovsk region, governors were so alarmed by the statistics; they called on mothers to “Give Birth to a Patriot.”

500 mothers took part, creating a mini-baby boom in the region.

“The aim of this Patriot scheme is to face the demography challenges, and then, to elevate the status of the family. Nowadays, some people believe it’s not important to get married and it’s not necessary to have children straight away. But then it's often too late,” explained the weak point of the public opinion Sergey Morozov, the Governor of Ulyanovsk.

The scheme offers a prize to mothers who gave birth to a second or third child on national Russia Day, the 12th of June.

The Federal Government has also taken baby steps to address the low birth rate. In an incentive for families to have more children, 10,000 dollars is being awarded for the birth of a second or third child, accessible when the child turns three while monthly state childcare benefits have been doubled.

“I think maybe it’s not that bad, if a woman does decide to have a child because she wants to get a new refrigerator or TV from the government, because it will help increase the birth rate,” approved Anna Khokhleva, mother.

“I’m not sure this should be done as a kind of one-off festival. This should be a long-term project. Support should come on a regular basis, not as a one-time gift. To give birth to a patriot is not the most difficult part. The hard part is to raise the child as a patriot,” opposed Dmitry Khokhlev, father.