Ukrainians are having so many children these days, the country`s chronically plunging demographics have shown the first positive signs in more than a decade, a senior official said Friday, according to the Earth Times. Net population growth over the first nine months of the year was registered in five provinces of the country, and population shrinkage was showing signs of stablising nationwide, said Oleksander Lavrinovich, Justice Minister, according to a Korrespondent magazine report.

The higest birth rate was in the western Zakarpatska province, with a 19 per cent increase in babies born during January through September of 2007. The other high performers - Rivno, Volyn, Lviv, and Kiev - ranged between one and 17 per cent more births than last year.

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This year`s bumper crop of babies had, for practical purposes, ended demographic contraction in those five provinces, he said.

The country`s population as whole however continued to shrink, with some 42 thousand more Ukrainians dying over the nine months, compared to babies born.

An aging population, poor health services, emigration, and a weak economy have led Ukraine to experience one of the worst population contractions ever seen by a country, outside of plague or war. From an estimated 54 million persons living in Ukraine in 1991, some 47 million are estimated to be in the country today.

The population contraction in Ukraine during the worst of the post-Soviet years, 1991 - 1996, exceeded population losses seen in the country in World War II.

An improving and now thriving economy, combined with government incentives to parents of 1.5 thousand dollars for a first child, and as much as 3 thousand dollars for subsequent ones, have helped slow the demographic trend.

Earth Times