Finland: 'Baby bonuses' to boost towns' populations

A baby in a hospital cot Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Have a baby in the town of Lestijarvi and you'll pocket a tidy sum of cash

Small towns in Finland have been trying to boost their dwindling populations by giving bonuses to people who move there, it's reported.

Some councils offer patches of land for a euro ($1; 70p), and others hand out cash to new parents, the national broadcaster Yle reports. Communities are trying to counter the effects of depopulation, as Finns continue to migrate to the country's cities. More than two-thirds of small municipalities offer building plots at rock-bottom prices, according to a new study by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities.

Some towns try to lure new parents with cash lump sums. While so-called baby bonuses vary widely, one tiny town in western Finland stumps up 10,000 euros ($11,400; £7,200) if people have their babies in the area, Yle says. Lestijarvi is hoping the cash will help it add to its current 815 inhabitants, a figure which makes it one of the smallest municipalities in the country. But to avoid people sweeping into town to make a quick buck, the cash is paid 1,000 euros at a time. Finland's government already pays universal child benefit for children aged under 17, and also guarantees a now-famous starter kit of essential items for each baby.

The association says it isn't yet clear whether the local incentives are working - but at least one town has given up for lack of takers. Utajarvi - population 2,901 - spent 10 years offering people land for one euro, but only sold a few dozen plots.

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