Unfortunately, the following story reports on the Iranian government’s decision to scrap their national family program and instead urge a “baby boom” — ostensibly to deal with an aging population “problem” and the President’s stated concern that their population might stop growing and begin to shrink someday.
Iran, with eye on long-term economy, urges baby boom
In another cyclical reversal of its birth-control stance, the Iranian government is encouraging citizens to have more children, a move officials hope will defray medical and social-security costs for an aging population.
By NASSER KARIMI
The Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran’s new message to parents: Get busy and have babies.
In a major reversal of once far-reaching family-planning policies, authorities are now slashing its birth-control programs in an attempt to avoid an aging demographic similar to many Western countries that are struggling to keep up with state medical and social-security costs.
The changes – announced in Iranian media last week – came after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei described the country’s wide-ranging contraceptive services as “wrong.” The independent Shargh newspaper quoted Mohammad Esmail Motlaq, a Health Ministry official, as saying family-planning programs have been cut from the budget for the current Iranian year, which began in March.
It’s still unclear, however, whether the high-level appeals for bigger families will translate into a new population spike. Iran’s economy is stumbling under a combination of international sanctions, inflation and double-digit unemployment. Many young people, particularly in Tehran and other large cities, are postponing marriage or keeping their families small because of the uncertainties.
Ali Reza Khamesian, a columnist whose work appears in several pro-reform newspapers, said the change in policy also may be an attempt to send a message to the world that Iran is not suffering from sanctions imposed over the nuclear program that the West suspects is aimed at producing weapons – something Tehran denies.
More than half of Iran’s population is under 35 years old. Those youth form the base of opposition groups, including the so-called Green Movement that led unprecedented street protests after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009. Some experts have said that trying to boost the numbers for upcoming generations also could feed future political dissent.
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