After Aleksandar Vučić said that he would propose to the Parliament to approve financial aid in the amount of EUR 5,000 for first-time parents, as a measure to stimulate the declining birth rate in Serbia, demographers and NGOs say that financial aid is welcome, but that long-term security is even more important.
“We will amend the law and we will make many things easier for pregnant women and mothers. We will also work towards significantly increase the government’s financial aid for parents of newborns,” Vučić said, adding that “the birth rate in Serbia is inversely proportional to the growing living standard”.
According to the State Bureau of Statistics, the number of births has decreased in the last ten years, from 65,598 in 2011 to 61,692 last year, so the negative natural increase in the number of inhabitants, not counting migration, stood at 37,337 at the beginning of the last decade, and 56,158 in 2020.
Assistant professor at the Demography Department at the Faculty of Geography, Petar Vasić, says that, in the last ten years in Serbia, future parents usually postpone having a first child, which affects fertility in many different ways, i.e. the average number of children born to one woman. He explains that women waiting for their financial situation to improve reduced the length of time during which women can give birth to the number of children they want, and as it often happens, during this time they start encountering various health problems.
“The desired number of children in Serbia is above 2.5, which is very good and is higher than in Europe, but the problem is that it fails to materialize. We are now recording similar data like in more developed countries, especially in Southern Europe, such as Spain, Italy and Greece. They have the lowest birth rates and the highest average age of first-time mothers. The countries that have evaluated their population policy measures have noticed that generous financial benefits have a significant effect on birth rate, i.e. the time when parents decide to have their first baby,” says Vasić.
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