It seems the world is built for families of four – two parents, and two children.
But apparently, the birth rate in developed countries seems to be too low in many countries. The U.N. reports that 33% of governments in developed countries, or about one in three, consider their fertility to be “too low” and are looking into policies to boost it.
The CDC recently reported that the U.S. fertility rate, or estimate of how many births a woman will have in her lifetime, dropped 18% from 2007 to 2017 in large metro areas, 16% in smaller metro areas and 12% in rural areas. Last year the number of U.S. babies born fell to its lowest level in 30 years.
Italy is attempting to solve the low birth rate by enticing its citizens to have more children by gifting state-owned farmland to any families who have a third child between 2019 and 2021.
The populist government is considering a children-for-land incentive, or rewarding parents who have a third child with free farmland. The surprising incentive was added to the European country’s latest draft budget, and intends to give pieces of state-held agricultural land for 20 years to parents who have a third kid between 2019 and 2021. These families could also apply for zero-interest loans for up to 200,000 Euros (almost $230,000) if they buy their first home near their new land.
“They say that Italians have few children and that something is needed to turn the trend around,” agriculture minister Gian Marco Centinaio told The Telegraph when asked about the newest addition to Italy’s draft budget. He’s right, too—last year, Italy had the lowest birth rate in all of Europe at just 464,000 births.
“That’s why the ministry wants to contribute, favoring rural areas in particular, where people still have children,” Centinaio added. Hence the free farmland, a perk available to anyone who has been an Italian resident for at least 10 years and is part of a married couple (civil unions are not eligible).
Land isn’t the initiative’s only incentive, either. Families who have a third child could also receive a zero-interest loan of up to $230,000 if they buy a home next to their new land.
The only downside of the offer is that it would be limited to married couples, as opposed to men and women in civil unions. Also, Italy does not recognize same-sex marriages, except as civil unions, so same-sex couples can’t apply. Foreigners also must live in Italy for a decade before they are eligible to participate.