Second child should come before third: minister

Despite the government recently agreeing to increase child benefit payments for third children, Welfare Minister Janis Reirs (Unity party) believes a second-child policy would do more to improve the demographic situation in Latvia told LETA.

The Demographic Affairs Council has approved allotting an additional EUR 28 million to raise benefits for third children next year, and another EUR 32 million in 2019 as previously reported by LSM, but the decision was not unanimous, explained Reirs, which suggests the policy may have as much to do with political expediency in keeping the National Alliance on board within the coalition as it does in tackling the pressing demographic challenge.

Demographer Peteris Zvidrins said that the focus should rather be on the second child policy, and the Welfare Ministry agrees with the expert's opinion, Reirs intimated.

70 percent of families in Latvia have one child, therefore it would be logical to encourage families to have a second child. This is also in line with demographic measures being taken in other countries, said Reirs.

In Reirs' words, increasing the benefits for the third child in a family will be further discussed next year. The Demographic Affairs Council is currently working on estimates of the cost of raising the benefits for the third child, but initial estimates suggest that EUR 32 million, to be allotted in 2019, will not be enough, added the minister.

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