The Greek government will be awarding every couple who has a baby with a financial benefit of €2,000 (about $2,200). The baby bonus comes into effect following projections that Greece’s population of 10.7 million could shrink by a third over the next three decades unless birthrates are increased. Additionally, current rates put around 36 percent of the population over the age of 65 by the year 2050, which is expected to put a strain on the labor force and the government’s social security program.
Domna Michailidou, the deputy minister of labor and social affairs and an advocate for the financial benefit to parents, commented on Greece’s baby incentive.
“People might think this is an issue of national pride but it’s actually one of national preservation. Given that high productivity rates are associated with young populations and not actively ageing ones, it’s also an economic growth priority. The picture becomes even more gloomy when compared with the difficult state of our pensions system.”
Part of the reason for Greece’s declining work force is the emigration of around 500,000 people between 2010 and 2015, during the country’s depression when it lost a quarter of its economic output. Many Greek citizens fled to more prosperous countries, including those in the north of Europe, the United States, and Canada.
Michailidou added that with the country losing 5 percent of its most-educated population — those who can earn higher wages and are also of reproductive age — the entire issue has been compounded.
During the depression, Greece was forced to make extreme budget cuts to keep the country in the eurozone, including decreasing public health funding by more than 40 percent. The effect that this had on medical services, especially in more rural and remote areas of the country, made women more hesitant to have children, while simultaneously increasing the number of stillbirths due to lack of proper prenatal care.
Michailidou is championing for more nurseries and daycare centers in the country to encourage women to have babies and re-join the workforce.
The baby bonus is Greece’s most drastic step to turn its population problem around and is expected to cost €180 million (about $200 million) a year, equivalent to 0.1% of GDP. It will be available to resident non-EU and EU citizens.
Greece is not the only country where birthrates have been declining as more and more couples choose not to have children. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, across Western Europe and North America, an increasing number of young couples are deciding not to have children because of climate change.