Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Prize I'd Really Like to Win

There was a wonderful story on NPR's All Things Considered show yesterday afternoon about the Russian town of Ulyanovsk's efforts to counter the effects of Russia's sharply declining birth rate. For the last three years, the town has had a "best parent" contest to see who could raise the best "Little Patriot;" the winners are selected by committee, and prizes have included refrigerators, cash, and this year's grand prize, a new SUV.

But in order to have parents to compete for the prizes, you have to have children...and so for the third year, Ulyanovsk has designated a "Day of Conception" on which workers wishing to ... um ... procreate ... can take the day off to do the horizontal tango in the hopes of winning those wonderful prizes. Of course, to an aging Lothario like me, the competition would be its own prize ... but then, no one asked my opinion.

All this, of course, makes light of a very serious problem: the declining birthrate in Russia and other industrialized nations. According to the NPR story, between 1987 and 1999, Russia's birthrate declined by a staggering 50%, and the cascading effect of that decline is magnified today by the smaller number of women available to have babies and the very high mortality rate in the population as a whole. Hence, the need to have contests to encourage people to do what comes naturally.

I believe this is a serious problem, and I think it's important to take appropriate action to reverse this sad trend. Therefore, on this year's Day of Conception, September 15th, encourage your significant other to help you show your solidarity with the citizens of Ulyanovsk by ... you know ... trying to win that SUV.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

5 comments:

Amanda said...

Interesting information. In Malaysia, there is a similar problem for the Chinese who now only have 1 or 2 children per family. I should let my friends know about 15 September.
BTW, we sometimes listen to NPR here in Brisbane too!

John said...

Count me in! I'm all about global solidarity! (at least in this matter)

YO said...

But, in the other hand, developing nations have the opposite problem... Maybe adoption of these children born in Africa, etc... that have 15 children by Russian families would be a good idea.

concerned citizen said...

Ha ha! that's great. I'm going to remember that day. ;]

concerned citizen said...

BTW it's September 12th not 15th.