Narine Hakobyan, 19, plays with her new born daughter at home. Narine will benefit from the Birth Encouragement Programme. By Anastasia Taylor-Lind
Nagorno Karabakh’s baby boom.
Since its introduction 4 years ago, the “birth encouragement program” is credited for an increased birth rate of 25.5% from 2145 recorded births in 2007 to 2694 in 2010. The program is administered by the department of Social Security which overseas the payments to married couples of approximately €575 at their wedding. They are then paid €190 for the first baby born, €380 for the second, €950 for the third and €1350 for the fourth. Families with 6 children under the age of 18 are given a house.
Nagorno Karabakh’s baby boom was also sparked in 2008 by a mass wedding on the 16th October that was held for 674 couples. The event was funded by private donations from several wealthy Armenian diaspora businessmen and couples that participated receive privately funded higher payments. Figures on the 1st July 2011 show that a total 693 babies have been born to these mass wedding couples so far. These payments are quite substantial in a region where the average monthly salary is 35 euros.
But perhaps there are questions that are yet to be answered, about the long-term affects of encouraging so many young women to become mothers. In a region economically deprived as Nagorno Karabakh, is the solution simply to increase the birth rate, without first improving education, infrastructure, employment opportunities and raising the standard of living for those future generations? Otherwise, the baby boom children may grow up to leave in search of better lives abroad, just like the youth of today.