Portuguese town offers parents cash to have babies

Alcoutim, in the Algarve, has a shortage of children. Credit: Reuters

A town in Portugal is offering parents 5,000 euros (£3,600) for every new baby in a bid to tackle a population shortage.

According to Agence France Presse, officials in the town of Alcoutim near the Spanish border are taking desperate measures to combat a 20% fall in the residents over the past 20 years.

It has a fertility rate of around 0.9 children, with the national rate at 1.21 children per woman - the lowest in the European Union.

The global financial crisis has been blamed for the shortage of youngsters, with many people forced to leave in search of jobs.

Mayor Osvaldo Goncalves says the scheme is intended to "attract young people" to the Algarve town, which has an average temperature of near 25C in August and sits on the bank of the Guadiana river.

Early signs are that it is working - nine births are expected this year, in comparison to six last year.