Small Town Solves Croatia’s Demographic Crisis — Maybe

Total Croatia News

Oct. 1, 2018 — A local council discovered a simple way to boost its population: Spend more on children and young families.

Put together a laundry list of “things young parents want from the government” and it’ll probably read something like this:

  • A progressive “baby bonus” for each newborn
  • A modern kindergarten
  • An updated grammar school
  • Co-financed — or free — textbooks
  • Rejuvenated playgrounds and the world’s most beautiful soccer pitch
  • Scholarships
  • Infrastructure upgrades (financed, in part, by EU funds)

The same list could offer logical measures meant to stem the ever-rising flood of Croatians streaming out of the country.

One local government had the wherewithal to give the ideas a try.

Was it Zagreb? No.

Split? Nope.

Try Preko, which has instituted the above list of measures. The town on the island of Ugljan is already reaping the benefits.

The number of “baby bonuses” — cash given to the parents for each newborn — already eclipsed last year’s total. By year’s end, Preko’s total number of newborns in 2018 may double last year’s total — 13.

“I think these numbers speak for themselves,” said the municipality’s mayor Jure Brižić, according to Zadarski List.

The various programs represent millions of kunas in investment meant to specifically benefit young families and children.

The crown jewel: the 1,2 million kuna rejuvenation of a seaside soccer pitch in Sutomišćica, which opened with a friendly between local club NŠK Sveti Mihovil and top flight Croatian side NK Osijek.

Preko’s kindergarten will be reconstructed in a 1,3 million kuna project, partially funded by the Croatian Ministry for Demography, Families, Youth and Socials Programs. The local grammar school will also be adapted so classes can be held in a single shift.

Both projects are slated for completion either during the school year, or in time for next year’s.

The municipality is also providing 500 kuna per student to help cover the cost of textbooks. It hopes to eventually pay for the books in full.

Preko’s “baby bonus” program mirrors similar programs elsewhere, including Sali on nearby Dugi Otok. The local government provides families 7.500 kuna for each first-born child, 15.000 for a second, 30.000 for a third and 60.000 for each kid afterward.

The effect of the pseudo-baby boom affects the adults as well: over the last year, Preko has added 2,700 jobs and employment is up five percent overall.

Perhaps the bean counters up in Zagreb can take a cue from a small town on a hard-to-pronounce island.


Subscribe to our newsletter

the fields marked with * are required
Email: *
First name:
Last name:
Gender: Male Female
Please don't insert text in the box below!

Leave a Comment