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What steps does the government plan to take to increase birth rates?

As it is known, in 2020 a number of benefits have been amended, based on the vision of improving the country’s demographic situation. In fact, the state wants to create a situation in which having a child is not considered a financial risk for the well-being of the family. According to experts, this is not enough, but a sufficient way to increase the birth rate. At the same time, it is necessary to continue implementing programs aimed at providing opportunities for combining family and professional responsibilities and removing barriers for young mothers’ entry into the labor market.

From July 1st of this year, the lump sum for the first and second baby will be 300,000 AMD. Currently, the one-time birth allowance is 50,000 AMD and the second one is 150,000 AMD. For third and next children, the lump-sum benefit will not change and will amount to 1 million and 1.5 million AMD.
The amount of child care benefits will also increase. Starting July 1st, 2020, mothers who are on maternity leave until their children turn 2 years old will receive a monthly allowance of 26,500 drams instead of 18,000 drams. By the way, since the law came into force, these changes have affected not only new but all beneficiaries who were already benefiting from that benefit.

 

As the RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan noted with the increase in benefits, the government wants to stimulate mothers in the labor market or with those with relevant skills to return to work as soon as possible. “I would like to emphasize that this is one of the regular expressions of our ideology of increasing women’s involvement in public and economic life.”

 

The most exciting change concerns rural women, both working and non-working. For the first time, the state will also take care of unemployed rural women, who will receive another 26,500 AMD a month starting July 1st, before the child turns 2 years old. And mothers living, working and staying in rural areas will receive twice the monthly allowance of 53,000 AMD before their children turn 2 years old. Such attention is not accidental to rural women. The problem is that in Armenia in recent years there has been a decline in birth rates especially in rural areas, while, according to international indicators, birth rates in rural areas are always higher than in cities. And the increase in benefits is aimed at preventing this dangerous trend.

 

In addition, the prime minister observes, by double-paying mothers in rural areas, they create jobs for others. “When a woman goes to work and receives this benefit twice, she has to ask someone to help her, in the conventional sense, to hire a nanny. I mean, not only does she have a job, but she also creates a job for another woman. It is our ideology that we should include the development element in any social program, ”he said.

 

Recently, another project was announced: The Ministry of Education, Science, Culture and Sport has submitted to the public a project that will provide the state with full tuition reimbursement for students with two or more children submitted to undergraduate/ bachelor’s degree program and not enrolled in free system as defined by the RA-established HEIs. As well as students who have completed military training during their studies with the Ministry of Defense and after completing their studies having entered into a civil service contract with the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Armenia at the place and under the specified conditions.
Mortgage programs for young families are also part of a pro-family policy. In 2020, 3 child care and young families housing assistance programs will be implemented in Armenia.

 

According to Iravaban.net, the first of three programs, one-off financial assistance for housing in regional areas, envisages that if the family has two underage children, the state will provide assistance to the citizen as a prepayment, as a free support, but not more than 5 percent of the value of the apartment, but depending on the number of children in that family, may increase up to 2 million AMD.
The next project relates to prepaid housing for children and young families. The main obstacle to getting a mortgage home for young families is the lack of down payment. We have decided that the state will insure the amount of that advance, that is, the beneficiary will pay that advance in the future, but without interest, no extra money, because then the state will insure the advance for that period, which means that the citizen will already paid in advance. But in all cases it will be mandatory for a person to invest 5%.

 

The third program is for families who already have mortgage loans, make payments and give birth to a baby, which is a financial risk, especially if the woman is an employee. This not only means additional expenses but also means additional income loss, and in view of this problem, the government has decided to support families with mortgage loans and child births if a certain child is born into a family at a certain percentage of the mortgage loan lump sum as payment. For example, if the first or second child is born, then 10 percent of the mortgage loan balance will be repaid in the provincial areas and 5 percent in the city of Yerevan, and if the child is the third or more, the rates will rise to 50 percent in the regional areas and 25 percent in Yerevan. He also added that certain bonuses would be given to families whose ages are below a certain age.

 

Speaking to WomenNet.am, UNFPA’s Population and Development Program Coordinator Anna Hovhannisyan noted that the Fund highly appreciates the recent steps taken by the Government of Armenia to improve the demographic situation in the country. “All the above mentioned programs, which will come into force from July 1, will certainly have a positive impact on Armenia’s demographic situation. However, international experience suggests that there is no such recipe that can address some of the demographic challenges. In particular, government programs are aimed at increasing fertility, which is quite low in Armenia and will certainly have a positive impact, but I repeat, it is difficult to expect a complete solution to the problem with just one program, ”she said.

 

There are many countries in the world that have the experience of overcoming the demographic crisis and it is obvious that we need to approach this issue through systematic, complex solutions. That is to say, only by increasing the amount of the child’s one-time allowance can it be difficult to expect that this global problem will be resolved positively.

 

Anna Hovhannisyan noted that the state should create conditions for the family to be able to combine the child’s upbringing and work so that having another child for them does not create financial burden or stress. That is, the family should be able to plan the birth of the next child without any hesitation.

 

Lia Khojoyan

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