Changing the demographic curve: UN experts say alternatives to curre

Changing the demographic curve: UN experts say alternatives to current
policies needed

SOCIETY | 22.05.13 | 09:11

By Gohar Abrahamyan
ArmeniaNow reporter

During these days when the Armenian parliament is discussing a new
program of the recently appointed government that also includes
provisions concerning the country’s demographic problems, an
international expert visiting Yerevan says in tackling the issue
officials in Armenia should pay attention not only to promoting the
birthrate but also to solving various problems of concern to the

During a discussion held at the United Nations Office in Yerevan on
Tuesday assistant representative of the United Nations Population Fund
(UNFPA) in Armenia Garik Hayrapetyan said although some projects have
been carried out in Armenia in this regard, such as child benefits,
free assistance to childbirth, housing for young families, etc., which
are directly or indirectly aimed at improving the demographic
situation, much still needs to be done to tackle the demographic
problem in the country.

Armenia is currently ranked among countries with low birth rates. In
recent years, the birthrate index in Armenia has been 1.5-1.6 (per
1,000 people). In its program for the next five years the government
plans increasing this rate to 1.8.

`A program for five years is a rather short-term program for
demography and I am not sure that its inertia will make it possible to
achieve certain goals, so alternative programs should also be
considered,’ said Hayrapetyan, adding that senior UNFPA expert Ralph
Hakkert has been invited to Armenia to see what alternatives could be
offered to the current policies.

According to Hayrapetyan, based on various statistical data a research
will be conducted within the next month and proposals will be

`Even if Armenia manages to raise its birthrate, it will have a
long-term, but not dramatic effect. The low birthrate of Armenia is
mainly connected with unemployment and emigration, so it would be more
useful first to work on addressing these problems,’ said Hakkert.

Presenting the experience of several countries aimed at increasing
birth rates, the expert noted that the provision of lump sum payments
to families for births mainly proves inefficient, and in this view
long-term benefits are necessary. He cited the example of Macedonia
where for a third and every subsequent child the state pays $150 a
month to the family for a period of 10 years.

Hayrapetyan said that in Armenia the birthrate among women aged above
35 is almost at a zero level, meanwhile, most women still remain able
to give births for the next 14 years. According to him, perhaps a
policy should be developed to use the fertility potential of mature

`Increasing the birth rate requires quite an effort. Labor laws must
be amended to allow people to feel confident about their future and
that without assistance they will be able to raise their children due
to their own jobs,’ said Hayrapetyan, adding that the salaries of
women who take maternity leaves should be maintained at the level of
up to 80-85 percent of the original pay and that they also need to be
sure during the period of absence from work that they will not lose
their jobs. As for paternity leaves in Armenia, according to
Hayrapetyan, there were two such cases in the Tavush and Ararat
provinces in the last two years.

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