Russian region gives couples day off to have sex 2007-08-16 19:00:58   Print

    BEIJING, Aug. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- In an effort to fight Russia's birthrate crisis, a region on the Volga River about 550 miles east of Moscow has declared Sept. 12 the Day of Conception and for the third-straight year is giving couples time of from work to have sex.

    Ulyanovsk has held similar contests since 2005. And since then, the number of competitors, and the number of babies born to them, has risen.

    The hope is for a brood of babies exactly nine months later on Russia's national day. Couples who "give birth to a patriot" during the June 12 festivities win money, cars, refrigerators and other prizes.

    Russia has one-seventh of the Earth's land surface, but only 141.4 million citizens, making it one of the most sparsely settled countries in the world. Because of a low birthrate and very high death rate, the population has been declining since the early 1990s.

    It is now falling by almost half a percent each year. Demographic experts expect the decline to accelerate, estimating that Russia's population could fall below 100 million by 2050.

    In his state of the nation address last year, President Vladimir Putin called the demographic crisis the most acute problem facing Russia and announced a broad effort to boost Russia's birthrate, including cash incentives to families to have more than one child.

    Under the federal program, women who give birth to a second or subsequent child are to receive certificates worth 10,000 U.S. dollars, which can be used to pay for education or to improve the family's living conditions.

    Monthly support payments were raised this year to 60 dollars from 28 dollars.


Editor: Gareth Dodd
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