Having a third kid comes with more responsibility, more diaper-changing, and now, if you live in Italy, more land. This new initiative, which is the populist League Party’s unique attempt at increasing Italy’s low birth rate, will give state-owned farmland to any families who have a third child between 2019 and 2021.
“They say that Italians have few children and that something is needed to turn the trend around,” agriculture minister Gian Marco Centinaio explained, when asked about the newest addition to Italy’s draft budget. He’s right, too—last year, Italy had the lowest birth rate in all of Europe at just 464,000 births.
Centinaio added, “That’s why the ministry wants to contribute, favoring rural areas in particular, where people still have children.” Hence the free farmland, a perk available to anyone who has been an Italian resident for at least 10 years and is part of a married couple (civil unions are not eligible).
Land isn’t the initiative’s only incentive, either. Families who have a third child could also receive a zero-interest loan of up to $230,000 if they buy a home next to their new land.
But not everyone thinks the “land for children” plan is a good idea. Some people feel that the new policy is too reminiscent of Benito Mussolini’s fascist Italy of the 1920s, and believe that the money being set aside for the controversial initiative could be put to better use.
“Policies that support birth rate and families are welcomed, but it would be better to implement in the Italian legal order measures under the European social pillar, such as the leave for mothers and fathers,” argued senator Gianni Pittella.
Plus, don’t think you’re going to be rewarded with a plot of perfectly usable farmland. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera wrote that the land being given away is “for the most part, what is left at the bottom of the barrel.”