Poland’s demographic crisis is not over. According to the Polish Office of Statistics (GUS) May is the second month running in which the number of births fell compared with the previous year by 11%. The figures will be a blow to the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party who have, via the universal monthly child benefit of 500 PLN for families with more than one child (500+), made reversing the negative demographic trend a top priority.
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Effects of 500+
The 500+ benefit is widely recognized to have reduced child poverty and improved living standards for many low and middle income families. However, the government had hoped that the program would boost the child birth. The fact that the numbers are still going south will be unwelcome news for the government.
According to demographers the program has helped in increasing the number of parents deciding to have a second, third etc. child because it kicks in only once the second child is born. However, it has done nothing to encourage people to actually start families. The numbers of those deciding to have a first child is still falling.
In an interview for the latest edition of “Gość Niedzielny” to be published on 29 July the Deputy Prime Minister responsible for social affairs, Beata Szydło, states that the government will introduce special pension rights for mother who have four or more children. She claims that the legislation will be ready in the autumn and that it can be introduced from the New Year.
According to Ms Szydło the government is also preparing to make all prescriptions for pregnant women free . The government has already adopted and implemented a benefit for all school children of 300 PLN to be paid out for educational purposes. Parents can apply for this cash benefit regardless of their income status.
There is however one issue with regard to increasing the birth rate where the governing party is not so ready to act. It’s the issue of widening the restrictions on abortions to include abortions for eugenic reasons.
Many Law and Justice Deputies, Beata Szydło being a prominent example, want to ban all abortions apart from those of children conceived as a result of incest or rape or when a pregnancy is a direct threat to the health of the mother.
However, the party is reluctant to raise this controversial issue ahead of a general election next year and the current compromise position by which a woman is allowed to seek an abortion when it can be proved that she would give birth to a child with serious disability is likely to stay.
source: Money.pl, Gość Niedzielny
Poland is worried about its demographic future. The country is facing a situation in which demographers estimate that by 2060 the ratio between employed and the retired will fall to 1 retiree for every one employed person. This has huge implications for the pensions system.
It is not surprising therefore that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has been signaling the need for Poland to boost its population numbers via immigration. But that in turns entails problems with integration of some of the immigrant groups that might arrive.
The policy makers will now have to consider what other factors apart from rising income and falling unemployment, both of which are now present in Poland, can induce an increase in the birth rate. Clearly there are other cultural, career, housing, family and social support and health considerations that are also in play.