Facing a dwindling population of approximately 500 people, a small town in Calabria, Italy, has banned dying, announcing Wednesday that failure to comply with the law would result in higher taxes. Population across the entire country has stalled, and the mayor of the town of Sellia said the measure was instated to encourage healthier living.
"We've put this measure into effect not as a joke, but as something truly serious," said Mayor Davide Zicchinella, reported Telesur. "Sellia, as many other towns in Southern Italy, is affected by depopulation."
The birth rate in Italy has been declining for the past fifty years and is now at an all-time low, with fewer babies born in 2014 than in any other year since 1861. Sellia is a scenic, medieval village that has made a name for itself in the past few years for Zicchinella's often unorthodox measures. The town was one of the first to institute free WiFi for everyone, and in 2010, the village won a prize for recycling 73 percent of all trash it produced.
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The population of Sellia has dwindled to just 537 people, most of whom are widows over the age of 75. In the 1960s, though the town was never a booming metropolis, Sellia had over 1,300 residents.
The new law is meant to encourage people to seek preventive medicine instead of constantly getting sick, according to the mayor. One measure of the new legislation requires all residents to have an annual physical to ensure their health at a new medical center that was built just one month ago for this purpose.
Despite the seemingly negligible 10 euro tax for not complying with an annual physical requirement, over 100 people, or 25 percent of the population, have made appointments at the medical center since the announcement Wednesday, the Local reported.
“Our citizens response has been more than encouraging. It's a result that embraces the spirit of this initiative,” said the mayor.