In 2012, Lestijärvi realised it had a baby problem. The small, rural village in Finland had seen only one baby born the previous year, and understood that its population was threatened by its declining – and almost non-existent – birth rate.
“We’d always paid attention to how many babies would be born the following year,” says Paula Jokela, a teacher in the village. “So when we noticed there was really only one baby being born in Lestijärvi, it woke everyone up.”
As the second-smallest municipality in mainland Finland, Lestijärvi decided to implement a radical measure to boost its dwindling population: pay for its citizens to have babies.
The value? €10,000 per baby, paid over 10 years.
But, there are strings attached.
If the family or the baby moves from the town, even temporarily, then the money stops coming in and if you return, you will not receive the money anymore.
“This is to make the families committed to staying in Lestijärvi.” The Mayor, Esko Ahonen said.
Now, seven years down the line, what’s the effect?
There has been a spike in the number of children being enrolled in school now and the effect of the ‘Baby money’ is evident says Paula Jokela, a teacher.
In fact, in the seven years since it was introduced, 60 families have had children and taken advantage of it.
There is hope for an increase in the size of the population, as the years go by.
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