Minister Warns of Severe Population Decline in Armenia

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–A detailed version of the government’s demographic policy designed by the government in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund will be submitted soon to the government for approval. The policy spells out a long list of measures the government will have to implement by 2015 to thwart what experts describe as demographic threats caused by aging population, a drastic decline in population growth and ongoing immigration. According to various estimates, at least 900,000 people have left Armenia in the last 15 years due to the socio-economic situation, the Karabakh conflict, the blockades, and the energy crisis, all of which brought about a sharp fall in living standards. An aging society like Armenia faces a number of other problems: a quantitative reduction in the labor force, an alteration of the structure of the labor market, low productivity and slowing down of economic growth. In discussing the report, labor and social affairs minister Aghvan Vardanian said the government needs to intervene to stop these trends. He said the core of the strategy would be to help families with many children, encourage families to have more than two children, restore the traditional values of family-oriented society. On average, 36,000 babies are now born in Armenia every year–less than half of the number of several years ago. In order to encourage and increase the birth rate, the government has decided to provide a one-off allowance of 200,000 drams (around $500) to mothers giving birth to a third child. But only socially vulnerable families will qualify for the grant. The labor ministry says some 3,000 families will receive the money. The United Nations Population Fund predicts that if current trends continue, the population will shrink to 2.33 million by 2050.

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