Putin says Russia needs more babies

May 10, 2006 at 12:10 PM

MOSCOW, May 10 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin has proposed cash payments to entice couples to have more children and reverse the trend of Russia's shirking population.

He made the remarks in his annual State of the Nation address, saying Russia's population has declined from a historical high of 148.4 million people in 1992 to about 143 million people at the end of 2005, the Prime-Tass news agency reported.

He proposed increasing the existing monthly subsidy from $26 to $55 paid to a family for the first child under 18 months old, and to $110 paid for the second child. Putin also suggested making a one-time payment of at least $9,000 to a woman giving birth to her second child, the report said.

Russians' average monthly income per capita amounted to $300 in February, Federal State Statistics Service figures show.

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