Putin touts paying mothers for babies
As president, Putin vowed to fight the decline in Russia's population and signed a law that gives mothers money for having a second child.Moscow -- Paying mothers for babies has been an effective measure in easing Russia's demographic crisis, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
"There has been a positive effect," Putin told an audience of European health and social policy officials, noting that 1.7 million babies were born in Russia in 2008, a seven percent increase from the year before. "This was partly the result of measures to stimulate the birth rate that were undertaken in recent years, such as substantial increases in family benefits and the introduction of special payments for women who give birth to two or more children."
Speaking at a conference organised by the Council of Europe, Putin also noted that "practically all the countries of Europe are dealing with demographic problems."
As president, Putin vowed to fight the decline in Russia's population and signed a law that grants mothers 250,000 rubles (7,000 dollars or 5,500 euros) for having a second child.
Russia's population has fallen from about 149 million in 1992 to 142 million today, raising alarm about the country's future.
Demographic experts have said, however, that the emphasis on birth rates is misplaced, saying a larger problem is Russia's dismal life expectancy, with men on average dying at age 58 -- 16 years younger than in Western Europe.