The baby bonus was a token paid to women to have babies in a small town, Laviano. Through the baby bonus strategy, one town was able to overcome a tragic loss. In a world where our population is rapidly increasing, one Italian town faced the opposite problem.
The Town with A Declining Population
On 23rd November 1980, an earthquake hit Laviano. Three hundred dead, that was almost 20% of the residents. The country had not realized they were digging corpses more. The resulting population loss had a devastating impact on the next generation. Less than 60 children were being enrolled in school every year. From the year 2000 to 2002, the village went without having any newborn for these two years.
Rocco Favilena, former Laviano mayor, moved to Laviano a few years later. He then realized the extent of the damage. In his head, he though the village could not overcome this tragedy.
“We have to bury our dead and leave,” Favilena though.
Planning for The Future: Baby Bonus
When Favilena was appointed mayor, he realized that only four children were born that year. That to him was a warning call that the situation in the village was still tragic. The mayor, therefore, had to come up with a plan to reverse the situation.
He, therefore, offered € 10,000 for each new baby born in the village. This offer is what was termed as the baby bonus. The baby bonus was given to everyone in the town who had a newborn regardless of their income status. The only condition that came along with the baby bonus was being a resident of Laviano and remaining here. The condition was conceived to enroll the children in primary school. Once you enroll the child in school, the parent received the last installment. The parents received €1,500 per year, while the last installment was € 2,500.
The Positive outcome
After Favilena implemented the strategy, many parents and single mothers benefited from the program. It also helped many mothers who desired to have children but could not afford to look after them due to their low financial status. Families in Laviano grew significantly year by year due to the program. There was a sudden upward shoot in the number of children being born in the village.
Today, more than 135 children attend school in Laviano compared to the less than 60 just 20 years ago. Daniel’s daughter, Gaia, is one of them. She is now 16 years and was the first baby to be born from the baby bonus initiative. Parents who had jobs such as Daniel could save the bonus for the future of the child. She further kept records of children who were born in the year 2003 after the baby bonus initiative started. The village had gone for two years without having any newborn, 2000-2002, in 2003 there were twelve new babies. These numbers gradually increased by the years.
A Once More Declining Population
The baby bonus only lasted for four years. Although the period was reasonably short, it helped to increase the number of newborns in the Laviano. However, once again, Laviano is dealing with a declining population. The village population dropped in the last seven to eight years. Those who go to other countries to study do not come back. They, therefore, settle in the places that they go too. Most of them find jobs and don’t return.
Despite this, the legacy of the baby bonus helped to plan for the future.
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