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26 Jun, 2007 03:07

Prize triggers mini baby boom

With Russia facing a demographic crisis, governors in the Ulyanovsk region in central Russia have been doing their bit to boost the birth rate.

They've offered a prize to “patriotic” mothers gave birth a second or third child on June 12 – that's national Russia Day.  The successful mums were given either a TV or a refigerator, or the cash equivalent.

500 mothers qualified for the prize, creating a mini baby boom in the region.

Russia's population is shrinking at an alarming rate. Compared to the West, the birth rate is shockingly low.

 Russia has 9.95 births for every 1,000 people, but a death rate of 14.65. This has led to the population declining by 700,000 a year. The United States has a birth rate of 14 for every 1,000 people and a death rate of just 8.2, giving it to a healthy population growth.

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

“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,” stressed Sergey Morozov, Governor of the Ulyanovsk region.

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