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The President presented in Tokyo the public policies promoted by the Basque Government in response to the demographic challenge

2023 October 17
  • The socio-demographic transformation is a major challenge for the Basque Country; in view of this reality, Basque institutions have implemented public policies aimed at families, reconciliation, co-responsibility, employment, housing and social protection
  • Among the measures promoted, Urkullu highlighted: the Gaztelagun Program, with financial support of up to 300 euros per month for housing rental for young people, free nursery schools for children from 0 to 2 years of age and financial support of 200 euros per month per child up to the age of three.
  • "Youth policies, young adults being able to leave the parental home and the demographic challenge are a priority in our vision to 2030. A priority that requires sharing a strategy, joining forces and collaborating for its implementation"- said the President

The President, Iñigo Urkullu, participated today in Tokyo in a round table organised by the Japan Research Institute on the demographic challenge: How to meet the challenges posed by a falling birth rate and an ageing population. The event was attended by the Secretary General for External Action, Marian Elorza.

Responding to the Demographic Challenge, intergenerational solidarity and territorial cohesion are essential components of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. The number of countries experiencing a reduction in the size of their population is growing, especially in the case of the more advanced economies. Therefore, the demographic challenge is already an object of global and local concern.

In this respect, the President explained the situation of the demographic challenge in the Basque Country within the framework of Europe. As he explained, the fall in the birth rate, the increase in the age of motherhood and greater longevity have led to a sustained trend of an ageing population. Urkullu cited three factors of special relevance in the Basque Country: the universalisation of the right to healthcare, education and social services; personal self-determination in the construction of the personal, professional or leisure plan; and the right of women to decide on their maternity, access the labour market and participate in public life. "The change in relation to this third factor has had a particular impact - Urkullu remarked - so, today, women represent 42% of the employed population in the Basque Country, and 32% of the managerial positions are held by women."

Demographic data and initiatives promoted in the Basque Country

Life expectancy in the Basque Country is 83.6 years. One year less than in Japan. The average age of young people leaving the parental home in the European Union is 26.5 years, in the Basque Country it is 29.7. In the European Union, the average age for having a first child is 29.7; in the Basque Country it is 32.3. The generational replacement rate is 2.1 children, and in the Basque Country this rate is 1.28. In this regard, the President admitted that the data for the Basque Country are not good.

That is why Urkullu has highlighted out that the socio-demographic transformation constitutes a challenge of the first order for the Basque Country. "The diagnosis we have made leads us to highlight three key points: employment, housing and disposable income"- indicated the President. "Faced with this reality, Basque institutions have deployed in recent years public policies aimed at families, reconciliation, co-responsibility, employment, housing and social protection," he added. In relation to this, the President listed some of the initiatives implemented in recent years:

  • Paid leave for childcare leave, 18 non-transferable weeks for paternity and maternity, breastfeeding or pregnancy-risk leave.
  • Reduced working hours for the care of children under 12 years of age, leaves of absence for the care of children under three years of age or for the care of seriously ill family members or the right to remote working.
  • Youth Law.
  • Basque Demographic Challenge Strategy 2030 with 36 specific actions.
  • Basque Strategy 2030 to favour young adults being able to leave the parental home, with ten driving projects and 27 complementary actions.

As a result of these last three initiatives, the following measures have been adopted: the Gaztelagun Program, with financial support of up to 300 euros per month for the rental of housing for young people, free nursery schools for children from 0 to 2 years of age and financial support of 200 euros per month per child up to the age of three. In addition, financial support for large families have been extended.

All the services presented represent an investment of 152 million of the annual budget. "The investment we are carrying out is relevant; this is a country objective"- he pointed out- "in general terms, the Basque Country is a country with a high social commitment, thus, 7 out of every 10 euros of the Basque Government budget is allocated to social policies"- he ratified; to which he added that- "employment is the best social policy".

For this reason, the government is also developing a series of initiatives along these lines to help generate employment opportunities for young people and improve their quality of life. The initiatives include: a youth employment action plan that has led to the creation of 26,000 jobs in the 2021-2022 period and plans to create another 25,000 jobs for young people in 2023-2024 and a new loan program for entrepreneurship or training projects for young people. "Our goal is to reduce the youth unemployment rate to below 10% among young people between 16 and 29 years of age," said Urkullu.

Finally, the President highlighted that "youth policies, young adults being able to leave the parental home and the demographic challenge are a priority in our vision for 2030. A priority that requires sharing a strategy, joining forces and collaborating for its implementation, with the aim of creating the conditions that allow people to have the number of children they want, when they want, and the Basque Country has the strengths to turn the demographic challenge into an opportunity," he concluded.

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Politicians attending the event