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Baby boom hits cash-for-births town

The town of Lestijärvi in Ostrobothnia has seen a record number of births in 2013. The 14 new arrivals in the town might well be down to the 10,000 euros paid by the council to the parents of each newborn.

Image: YLE / Kia-Frega Prepula

On average, 6 babies are born in the town annually. 2012 was a particularly worrying year for the town, as the birth rate hit a record low. That’s when the municipality decided it would pay 10,000 euros for each baby born there until the end of 2016. The first year of the trial has been a success, with 14 new babies born in 2013.

The money is paid in instalments over the first ten years of the child’s life, so long as the baby continues to reside in Lestijärvi.

City Manager Esko Ahonen says that the offer of hard cash is not the only spur to Lestijärvi’s fertility boom.

"Of course it could have some significance," says Ahonen. "But we have sought younger residents to the town and our future outlook is good and positive."

Ahonen claims that a good health centre and a small school are attractions for families. The outlay will be significant in future years, but Ahonen is not concerned about the effect on municipal finances.

"I don’t believe that the births that will come during these four years will bankrupt the town," says Ahonen. "On the contrary, this will have a really positive effect."