Bonus Babies: State to increase aid to families with three or more children

State Budget discussions for the coming years will include talk on an increase of the one-time monetary aid to families with three or more children – a move meant to encourage population growth in Armenia.

The government’s midterm expenditure project for 2013-2015 envisages that starting in 2014 a family would get 1 million drams ($2,470) as one-time financial assistance for the third and for the fourth child, and 1.5 million drams ($3,700) for the fifth (or more) child. The increase more than doubles the current $1,060 currently offered.

Vanik Babajanyan, heading the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, told ArmeniaNow that by this step the government is creating a serious incentive to increase the birthrate.

“Families are deeply in need of that assistance. We are also going to offer long-term projects, when families become beneficiaries after the birth of their third, fourth, etc, child, in making non-cash deals [mortgagees, etc],” says Babajanyan, adding that the statistics for 2002-2010 show by-the-year increasing birthrate.

“While in 2002 there were 32,229 children born in Armenia, in 2011that number has reached 43,340. It is necessary to maintain that positive dynamics observed in Armenia over the past decade,” he says.

However, demographer Ruben Yeganyan told ArmeniaNow that the increased financial aid will not be effective and might turn out to be counter-effective.

“Today we have a serious problem with marriages, and families don’t want to have a second child, and three- and four-children families make only 10-15 percent in Armenia, and even if that number is doubled it won’t mean a tangible shift,” he says, adding that the increased amounts might actually have a negative impact: families might take that step for the money to take care of this or that problem, but later it may lead to new social hardships.