Serbia to Use Cash to Boost Birth Rate, Avert Population Decline
(Bloomberg) -- Serbia will triple a cash incentive to parents for their first-born child and prop up support for bigger families to fight a crippling demographic decline, President Aleksandar Vucic said.
“We’re vanishing as a nation,” the Balkan country’s leader told reporters on Wednesday as he announced tripling the one-time incentive for mothers for their first child to 300,000 dinar ($2,862) as of January. Serbia will also increase its existing cash and other support to families to have and raise more children, he said.
The plan comes as Vucic, whose party and allies control an absolute majority in Serbia’s parliament, is gearing up for general elections expected in the spring. Mainstream opposition parties boycotted a previous ballot in 2020, but are likely to challenge Vucic’s dominance in the race that will also include his job.
The average monthly net wage equals $616 in the nation of 6.9 million. The population is falling by around 30,000 a year amid a low birth rate and emigration. The median age is almost 43 years, among the highest in Europe.
Serbia’s current birth rate of 1.5 needs to go up to at least 2.15 just to maintain the current population size, Vucic said.
Additional steps will help young people to stay in colleges and universities even if they become parents while studying, he said. The government is weighing giving grants to young couples of as much as $22,000 to help them buy their first home and start a family, he said.
“We’re getting older and older, and our economic progress will depend on how we ensure the nation’s progress with the demographic measures,” Vucic said.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.