Estonia's Total Fertility Rate Increasing In Part Because Of Government Program Encouraging Women To Give Birth
Estonia\'s total fertility rate has increased to an average of 1.5 children per woman from an average of 1.3 children per woman in the late 1990s, which could be the result of a government initiative aimed at sustaining the nation\'s population by providing women who have children with monthly stipends, the Wall Street Journal reports. The initiative, launched in 2004, was pushed after a 2001 world population report by the United Nations showed that Estonia was \"one of the fastest-shrinking nations on earth,\" according to the Journal. Under the program, Estonia provides employed women who have children with their monthly salary, up to $1,560 monthly, over a 15-month period and unemployed women with $200 monthly. According to the Journal, the average monthly salary in Estonia is $650. The program has helped raise the total fertility rate because many employed women in the country could not afford to take time off from work to have children and because taking time off could have a negative impact on job security, according to the Journal. Some other factors that contributed to the lower total fertility rate include advances in birth control and ideas about personal freedom and happiness, the Journal reports. Estonia\'s program could serve as a model for other countries with low total fertility rates, according to the Journal. The Estonian government plans to continue formulating strategies -- such as expanding preabortion counseling and subsidizing child-care providers and private day care -- to help improve the total fertility rate, the Journal reports. According to the Journal, Estonia needs a total fertility rate of 2.1 children per woman to maintain its current population (Walker, Wall Street Journal, 10/20).
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