Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Feb 26 17:11:07 UTC 2010

Marianna Grigoryan: 2/24/10

Birth rates are reportedly booming in the disputed region of
Nagorno-Karabakh after the launch of an Armenian-Diaspora-financed
program that offers cash payouts of at least $2,000 for each baby
born. Russia-based, Karabakh-born entrepreneur Levon Hairapetian,
along with Ruben Vardanian, the chief executive officer of the Russian
investment bank and asset management firm Troika Dialog Group, laid
the groundwork for the program with a pledge of $2,000 for each child
born to those who took part in a mass wedding for 700 Karabakh
couples. Hairapetian financed the mass nuptials in 2008. [For details,
see the Eurasia Insight archive]. The amount paid will increase with
each subsequent child born.

With average monthly salaries in Karabakh a mere $50, according to
local statistics, the Hairapetian offer apparently has proven too good
to pass up. Sixty-one percent of the couples who took part in the 2008
wedding had children as of January 2010. The region's de facto
government has also added to the payouts. Under Karabakh's so-called
"birth encouragement" program, newlywed couples now receive $300 for
their first child, $600 for their second child, $3,000 for their third
child and $4,000 for their fourth child and any subsequent children.
The payments also go to couples who did not take part in Karabakh's
massive 2008 wedding.

The region's de facto minister for social welfare, Narine Astsatrian,
credits these baby bonuses for an estimated 31.5-percent spike in the
birth rate for 2009 (2,821 babies born) compared to the 2007 level
(2,145 babies born). "The birth rate has undoubtedly increased," she
said. "And the big wedding has indeed contributed to it."  Karabakh's
population plummeted in the 1990s after a six-year war between
Azerbaijan and Armenia over the region. The conflict prompted the
exodus of thousands of ethnic Azeri and ethnic Armenian residents.
Independently confirmed figures for the region's current population
are not available, but the de facto government puts the number at some
145,000 people. A 1989 Soviet census put the Karabakh population at
200,000 residents.

Boosting the population has become a priority for Karabakh's de facto
government, which expresses increasing unease at comments from
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev that Baku does not exclude the use
of force to regain control over Nagorno-Karabakh. The claims are part
of a three-way dispute among Armenia, Karabakh's protector, and Turkey
and Azerbaijan over plans for Turkish-Armenian diplomatic
reconciliation. [For details, see the Eurasia Insight archive]. That
unease has put the emphasis on making life easier for those
individuals who have elected to stay in the disputed territory.
Karabakh's de facto government in 2009 boosted social welfare outlays
to some 27.2 percent of all spending (roughly 16 billion Armenian
drams, or about $41.9 million) -- a figure 2.5 billion drams more than
the entire budget for 2005.

The source of those funds is not entirely clear; de facto social
welfare minister Astsatrian stated that the de facto government has
only an administrative role in the baby-bonus program. Aside from the
baby-bonus payouts, Gohar Hakobjanian, the director of the only
maternity hospital in Karabakh's capital, Stepanakert, also credits an
improved post-war economy for the recent birth spurt. Statistics from
Karabakh's de facto government to back that claim are hit and miss -
the de facto Karabakh Republic's mission to Washington claims foreign
investments of roughly $35.1 million and an economic growth rate of
10.4 percent.

"The situation has now changed drastically," Hakobjanian said. "You
can see many pregnant women in Stepanakert now." Not all of them are
first-time mothers, she added. To accommodate the reported boom,
another maternity hospital will be built in Stepanakert in the next
two years, she said. It could well come in handy. Holding her
seven-month-old daughter in her arms, Siranik Hairapetian, a
20-year-old bride from the Karabakh village of Khtsaberd who took part
in the 2008 mass wedding, says that she and her husband are "very
glad" about the baby bonus payments. Altogether, the Hairapetians (no
relation to Levon Hairapetian) have received $5,000 since their
marriage -- $2,000 from the wedding organizers; $1,000 from Karabakh's
de facto president, Bakho Sahakian; and a $2,000 payment upon the
birth of their daughter, Maria. Commented maternity hospital director
Hakobjanian: "Life in Karabakh is changing for the better."


N.b.: Listing on the lgpolicy-list is merely intended as a service to
its members
and implies neither approval, confirmation nor agreement by the owner
or sponsor of the list as to the veracity of a message's contents.
Members who disagree with a message are encouraged to post a rebuttal.
(H. Schiffman, Moderator)

For more information about the lgpolicy-list, go to
This message came to you by way of the lgpolicy-list mailing list
lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu
To manage your subscription unsubscribe, or arrange digest format: https://groups.sas.upenn.edu/mailman/listinfo/lgpolicy-list

More information about the Lgpolicy-list mailing list