Russia experiences 'baby boom' for first time since 1991: Min

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Moscow, Feb 2 (UNI) Russia is going through a ''baby boom'' for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991.

Russian Health and Social Development Minister Tatyana Golikova said in 2007 Russia had the highest number of births since 1991.

''Russia has not seen such a baby boom for 15 years, the highest number of births since 1991,'' Ms Golikova told mediaperosns.

She said 1.6 million babies were born last year, up 122,750 against 2006.

Ms Golikova also praised presidential maternity incentives approved last year, including higher payments for mothers of children under 18 months, benefits for unemployed mothers and payouts of about 9,500 dollars for the birth of two or more children, so called ''baby-money.'' Demographic problems are widely seen as one of the main threats facing modern Russia since the market reforms and economic hardship of the 1990s.

Many experts are concerned that Russia will be hit by a demographic crisis in the near future.

According to UN estimate, Russia's population, currently at about 142 million, could fall by 30 per cent by the middle of the century.

UNI XC PD SSC1507

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