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Russia seeks higher birth rate

Last year he promised tax breaks for bigger families.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has announced a series of plans to increase the number of children being born in the country from an average birth rate of under 1.5 per woman to 1.7 within four years.

On Wednesday, Mr. Putin told parliament “the birth rate is falling again”, and pledged government funding for new mothers.

“Maternity capital” has until now only been paid to families with at least two children.

Welfare benefits will also be paid for children aged three to seven in low-income families, and free school meals will be provided for the first four years of school, the BBC has reported.

Several Eastern European states, including Russia,  are struggling with a declining birth rate. Russia’s current birth rate stands at 1.48, although with its population nearing 150 million, it has more people living within its borders than any other European country.

Also, its population has struggled to recover from a dramatic decline in the 1990s, to the point that Mr. Putin said by 1999 the birth rate had fallen to 1.16, lower even than during World War II when an estimated 27 million Soviets were killed.

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