An underpopulated area of Southern Italy is offering people a monthly wage of 700 euros for three years to live on one of the region’s villages.
The catches are that the village must have a population of fewer than 2,000 and the new resident must open a business.
The scheme is part of a novel way the residents of the Molise region plan to combat the dwindling population of their area.
“If we had offered funding, it would have been yet another charity gesture,” Donato Toma, the president of Molise, told the Guardian.
“We wanted to do more; we wanted people to invest here. They can open any sort of activity: a bread shop, a stationery shop, a restaurant, anything. It’s a way to breathe life into our towns while also increasing the population.”
A total of 10,000 euros will also be given to each town with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants in a bid to improve infrastructure and encourage people who move there to stay.
A population in decline
According to the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat), more than 9,000 people have left Molise since 2014.
Its current population is 305,000. In 2018 more than 2,800 residents either died or left the area, and not a single birth was registered in any of the regions nine villages.
And the situation in Molise is not unique within Italy. The nation is the only major European economy whose population is expected to fall in the next five years, and is second only to Japan in terms of the proportion of older people (over 65s) in the country compared to young.
The reason for this is, according to Istat, the migration of young people to other countries in search of jobs and a decrease in births.
Other strategies employed across Italy to encourage the population of certain areas to rise includes the opening of towns up to asylum seekers in Suera, Sicily, and the selling of houses for prices as low as one euro, which is happening in Sambuca.
To apply for the money for living in Molise you need to file for a reddito di residenza attiva or "active residency allowance" within 60 days of arrival.