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Swedish town mulls IVF discount to combat population drain

Published: 16 Jun 2011 12:14 GMT+02:00
Updated: 16 Jun 2011 12:14 GMT+02:00

A municipality in northwestern Sweden wants to offer financial aid to employees in need of fertility treatment in an attempt to recruit new residents to the area and boost dwindling population figures.

“Today there are about 5,600 of us– about the same as one block of flats in Stockholm,” Terese Bengard, a local politician in Ragunda municipality told The Local.

Like in the rest of small-town Sweden, population figures have been dwindling in Ragunda, located on the eastern edge of Jämtland County, over the last 10 to 20 years.

New figures from Statistics Sweden (Statistiska CentralbyrånSCB) show that the number of people moving to densely populated areas of the country increased by 383,000 between 2005 and 2010.

Today 85 percent of Swedes live in densely populated areas, which take up a mere 1.3 percent of the country's land area.

A similar scheme to that considered in Ragunda was introduced in the small communities of Berg, Strömsund and Härjedalen a few years back, where all inhabitants are offered financial support for fertility treatments.

This might be what will eventually happen in Ragunda as well, where the outlines of the scheme are still being worked out.

“We don’t know yet what we will be allowed to do, or even what we can afford to do. But it is important to explore all avenues and look at all creative ideas in order to increase our population figures,” said Bengard.

The municipality is considering all sorts of measures to attract people to the region.

Another measure up for discussion is looking to attract people to move in from densely populated countries in Europe, such as The Netherlands, a measure taken by many other rural Swedish regions.

The area also has strong ties to Thailand due to the Thai pavilion built there to commemorate a visit by Thai king Chulalongkorn in 1897.

“I often say that if every inhabitant in Ragunda could just get one more person to come and live here we double our population in no time,“ Bengard told The Local.

She thinks that what is important is to show that Ragunda welcomes new people and that there are job opportunities on offer contrary to popular belief about rural areas.

Financial aid for those in need of IVF or adoption is another factor that may attract people to the area.

The municipality board will decide on the scheme after the summer break.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

19:15 June 16, 2011 by JulieLou40
"I often say that if every inhabitant in Ragunda could just get one more person to come and live here we double our population in no time," Bengard told The Local.

No s**t, Sherlock.
21:18 June 16, 2011 by Pro-alliance
With a family friendly nation that Sweden is- some areas continue to see depopulation. It is important that these districts' ways of life, history and heritage are preserved. Thus this initiative makes sense.
22:17 June 16, 2011 by update-2011
I wish the whole world is filled with Swedes! TOP NATION!!!!!!!!Loooove you SWEDES!
02:48 June 17, 2011 by cutthecrap
They should keep quiet about this. I think I know an organisation that will seek to give them a gift of a lot of undesirable residents that will plague their lives for ever.
08:36 June 17, 2011 by Zeffanyx
Thai people in NW Sweden, Iceland, Svalbard are already there and growing. More and more Finns make families with Thai women. You know why? Because these asian people still carry traditional values including sex roles. Gender equality shows itself clearly - the population simply dwindles.
15:41 June 17, 2011 by tadchem
Is the concern here for a shrinking population (not always a bad thing for the population) or a shrinking tax base (always a bad thing for spendthrift politicians)?
00:39 June 21, 2011 by jamesblish
The solution to population drain is not more people, it's employment and whatever else is missing and causing the people to move in the first place.
06:30 June 21, 2011 by Da Goat
Don't worry Ragunda just wait a year or so and they will all be back home again farming the land like the good old days!
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