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As Italy faces a population crisis, the government plans to award land to parents who have a third child by 2021. The plan, devised by the far-right League party, would solve two problems at once: raising the dwindling population, and taking the burden of maintaining the state-owned land from the government’s shoulders.
Families that take advantage of this new initiative would be allowed to hold the land for 20 years, making it more of a loan than a “give-away.” According to Coldiretti, the association of Italian agricultural companies, the state owns 1.2 million acres of farmland worth approximately 10 billion euros.
Italy was recently found to have the lowest birth rate in Europe. Since 2008, when the rate peaked at 9.8 births per 1,000 residents, each year has seen a steady decline. In 2017, the birth rate was recorded at 7.6 births per 1,000 residents. Only around 464,000 new babies were registered in 2017, which could leave Italy with a significantly older majority of the population in the coming years.
Agriculture Minister Gian Marco Centinaio remarked:
“They say that Italians have few children and that something is needed to turn the trend around. That’s why the ministry wants to contribute, favoring rural areas in particular, where people still have children.”
The effort, called “Land-for-Children”, is currently being offered only to married couples and not civil unions. Any foreigner who wishes to take part in the initiative would have to have been a resident for at least 10 years.
Only time will tell if the offer will succeed, but The Local points out that it would do nothing to address other issues that may be causing young Italians to put off having children, such as unemployment, lack of state benefits, or childcare for working parents.