Russia in demographic crisis, to support more births
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law on additional measures for state support of families with children as a long-sought measure to improve the country's demographics, the president's press service said.
According to the new law, a family is entitled to an additional state support in a form of the so-called basic mother (or family) capital in the amount of 250,000 rubles following the birth of a second or and any consecutive child.
In his state of the nation address on May 10, Putin highlighted a demographic crisis as the most serious problem facing Russia and proposed radical measures to deal with it.
The United Nations has warned that Russia's population - which stood at roughly 145 million in a 2002 census - could fall by as much as a third by 2050, and Putin said it was falling at about 700,000 people every year.
In an hour-long speech, the Russian President said demographics were a key issue for Russia's socio-economic development, and identified three ways of dealing with a falling population: higher birth rate, lower mortality rate, and effective migration policy.
To boost birth rates, Putin said monthly child benefits should be raised from 800 rubles to 1,500 rubles () for the first child and mothers should be paid 3,000 (0) a month for their second child.
He also said the government should give women at least 250,000 rubles (,225)
as financial aid following the birth of a second child.
The Russian leader said women could use the benefit to solve housing problems, spend it on the education of their children, or channel it into the funded part of their pensions, adding that the sum should be indexed annually in line with inflation.
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