Iran aims for baby boom, but are Iranians in the mood?

Wed Nov 14, 2012 9:12am EST
 

By Yeganeh Torbati

DUBAI (Reuters) - Before Somayeh can have the second child she and her husband have been talking about, they must first consider the expense.

"Baby food, clothes, doctors, the hospital - it all costs a lot of money. Which we can't afford at the moment," she said, speaking to Reuters by phone from inside Iran.

Like many countries, Iran is concerned that its low population growth rate, estimated at 1 percent by the United Nations in 2011, will foster an aging population with potentially disastrous consequences for its workforce, public health infrastructure and social security network.

The government is trying to reverse the trend. But it faces unique headwinds.

In addition to worries about money and employment they share with millions of young people around the world in an economic downturn, Iranians must contend with high inflation, a plummeting currency and the possibility of war if Israel follows through on threats to strike Iran's nuclear sites.

Changing ideas about the role of women and the family also play an important part.

Convincing people like Somayeh, 32, will be key.

Somayeh's husband was eager to have a child soon after they married five years ago, but she insisted they wait until they could move out of their rundown flat, with intermittent electricity and leaky ceilings, in a dangerous part of Tehran.   Continued...