In order not to turn into a ghost town, authorities of a Portuguese village, Alcoutim, have launched an ingenious scheme to kickstart a baby boom. They are offering to pay parents 5 000 euros ($5600) for every new baby.
Alcoutim, a village in the south-east near the border with Spain has lost a third of its population over the last 20 years and it’s birth rate has dropped sharply. The genesis was the global financial crisis that hit Portugal hard, making unemployment to drive the village’s young people out in search of jobs.
Cash-strapped couples who stayed, meanwhile, put off plans to start a family.
The newly introduced cash-for-babies scheme is offering the money per newborn to help couples cover the costs of parenthood.
“These things are expensive,” said Daniela Silva as she and her husband Nuno shop for their six-month-old son Santiago in the town’s pharmacy.
With Daniela, 29, unemployed and Nuno, 37, on sick leave from his job at a retirement home, starting a family has been a struggle.
Eye ointment, a musical mobile and a playpen alone add up to 228 euros but the village allowance will cover the cost.
“We live with my in-laws, with 800 euros a month,” said Nuno.
“The town’s help is very important for us.”
Alcoutim’s baby bonus is not the first of its kind in Portugal, but it is the most generous.