Hugh Pickens writes: "Sergei Morozov, Governor of the Russian province of Ulyanovsk, has decreed September 12 a Day of Conception and is giving couples time off from work to procreate. Couples who give birth nine months later on Russia's national day — June 12 — will receive money, cars, refrigerators and other prizes. The New York Times reports that this is the third year the competition has been going on and so far, the region's birth rate is up 4.5 percent compared to the same period last year. Russia's population has dropped since the 1991 Soviet collapse, fed by declining birth rates, a low life expectancy, a spike in emigration, a frayed health care system and other factors. The country — the world's largest by area — now has just 141.4 million citizens, making it one of the most sparsely settled nations. Experts estimate that Russia's population could fall another 22 percent by 2050 with a devastating impact on the workforce, military recruitment and family formation."