A Russian region best known as the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin has found a novel way to fight the nation's birthrate crisis: It has declared Sept. 12 the Day of Conception and for the third year running is giving couples time off from work to procreate.
The hope is for a brood of babies exactly nine months later on Russia's national day. Couples who "give birth to a patriot" during the June 12 festivities win money, cars, refrigerators and other prizes.
Ulyanovsk, a region on the Volga River about 550 miles east of Moscow, has held similar contests since 2005. Since then, the number of competitors, and the number of babies born to them, has been on the rise.
....Russia, with one-seventh of the Earth's land surface, has just 141.4 million citizens, making it one of the most sparsely settled countries in the world. With a low birthrate and high death rate, the population has been shrinking since the early 1990s.
It is now falling by almost half a percent each year. Demographic experts expect the decline to accelerate, estimating that Russia's population could fall below 100 million by 2050.