Births Jump 8% as State Provides Aid

Births rose 7.8 percent in the first half of the year after the government introduced monetary incentives for families in an effort to stop the decline in the population.

A total of 811,500 babies were born in January through June, up from 753,000 a year earlier, the Health and Social Development Ministry said in a new report. Growth in births outpaced the 0.8 percent increase in deaths.

The government is trying to stop the decline in population and introduced a number of "economic measures aimed to support families with children and improve their welfare," Vitaly Kolbanov, head of the ministry's analysis and forecast department, said in the report. The measures helped to achieve "such a high'' growth rate in births, he said.

The population fell 0.4 percent in 2007, reaching 142.2 million, according to the State Statistics Service. This year, population may decrease by 0.1 percent to 142 million, it said.

The government's priorities in demographic policies include promotion of healthy lifestyle, reduction of traumatism, professional diseases and mortality at production facilities, Kolbanov said in the report. Life expectancy for men increased to 61.6 years in 2007 from 60.57 in the prior year, according to preliminary results released in the report. Life expectancy for women reached 74.7 years last year, up by 0.74 years from 2006. The Heath and Social Development Ministry expects the amount of births in Russia to rise 5.5 percent to 6 percent in 2008.