Italy has become the second European nation to offer its nationals land and €200,000 interest free housing loans to boost their birth rate in a plan announced by the Lega Party ministers of Agriculture and Families.
The announcement comes almost simultaneously with similar plans announced by the government of Hungary.
According to reports in the Italian media, the Italian government plans to give state-owned farmland land to every family that has a third child between 2019 and 2021 under a new budget proposal.
Italy has the lowest birthrate in Europe. Last year some 464,000 births were registered, a record low, leaving Italy with a significantly older population.
“They say that Italians have few children and that something is needed to turn the trend around,” said Lega Agriculture Minister Gian Marco Centinaio.
“That’s why the ministry wants to contribute, favoring rural areas in particular, where people still have children,” he told the media. Parents would be given pieces of agricultural land for 20 years under the new initiative.
According to Coldiretti, the association of Italian agricultural companies, the state owns half a million hectares (1.2 million acres) of farmland worth nearly 10 billion euros.
The “land-for-children” idea is backed by Italy’s families minister and fellow Lega member Lorenzo Fontana, who announced that the offer would only be available to married couples.
The plan says it is a measure to “to favor population growth” and “to promote the socio-economic development of rural areas.”
In addition to the land, successful applicants will be granted loans of up to €200,000 at 0 percent interest rate to families who buy or build houses on the land.