New Democracy Promises Greeks 2,000 Euro Baby Bonus


New Democracy spokeswoman Maria Spyraki. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Yiannis Panagopoulos)

With Greece’s population rapidly declining as many families have decided against having children during a more than 8 ½-year-long economic crisis, the major rival New Democracy said it would give 2,000 euros ($2288.10) for every birth if the party comes to power.

The Conservatives are leading by as much as 14.1 percent in recent surveys with elections required to be held this year amid speculation they could be as soon as May to coincide with those for European Parliament.

Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who plummeted in polls for repeatedly reneging on anti-austerity pledges, has been trying to regain favor by offering handouts, raising the minimum wage, stopping a planned pension cut and rolling back other reforms he agreed with international lenders.

New Democracy spokeswoman Maria Spyraki told reporters the baby bonus is aimed at encouraging especially young Greek couples to have children and to curb a plunging birth rate that is expected to go on for decades.

Another key aim of the program is the creation of "lots of well-paid jobs," Spyraki said without explaining how that would happen with Greece under scrutiny from international lenders for possibly decades nor from where the money would come with a full recovery seen years off.

Additional measures include reduction to the hated ENFIA property tax surcharge that was raised after Tsipras vowed to scrap it, and lower to social security contributions, she added without providing a cost analysis.

Greek population totals dropped by 355,000 between 2008 and 2017, epidemiology professor of the University of Thessaly Giorgos Rachiotis said earlier, attributing the change to declining rate of births following the economic crisis which also saw scores of thousands of people, especially the young, in an exodus looking for jobs and a better life elsewhere.

In October, 2018, a special panel of analysts commissioned by the Parliament reported that the population loss could be as much as 1.4 million people by the end of 2035, putting even more strain on an already burdened social security system with fewer workers paying in.

Successive governments have cut benefits for families with children and SYRIZA authorized first-time taxes starting in 2020 on previously exempt low-and-moderate income individuals and families that Tsipras wants to wiggle out from under as well.

According to the findings, Greece’s population will come be 9.5-10.4 million in 17 years, compared to 10.9 million in 2015, and could fall to 8.3-10 million by 2050 if current demographic trends continue.

It forecast those over 65-years will account for 30.1-33.3 percent of the population by 2050, from 20.9 percent in 2015, while the working-age population (20-69 years old) will shrink from 7.1 million in 2015 to 5.7 million in 2050.