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Demography is Poland’s number 1 problem at the moment. Total fertility rate (around 1.3) is one of the lowest in the world with only few countries ranked lower. Although it has been a subject of many political debates in recent years, and some decisions have been made: including extending maternity leave. Unfortunately despite those efforts TFR has decreased rather increased. It is difficult to point out particular reason. Among many others are: low social security, high unemployment among young people, cultural changes. What is a very interesting that Polish people are one of the most fertile nationalities in the United Kingdom (2.5 children per couple – higher than any other country in Europe). This examples shows we did not lose a survival instinct yet and there is a hope but drastic decisions have to be made now.
Although pro family policy exist in Poland in practice state incentives simply do not work. The great example are personal income tax exemptions for children. Many people cannot event reach threshold entitling for exemption as they do not earn enough. There are many instrument which could be implemented right now to promote motherhood and improving catastrophic demographic situation: reducing VAT on baby products, enabling use of second textbooks in schools, taking part of financial burden for maternity leave from employers, building a positive atmosphere around a family. Some experts claim that negative image of family in media and promoting hedonistic lifestyle could be also responsible for low fertility rate. It is not 100 percent sure what should be done and what the reasons are but we either improve situations with next coming years or we will see Poland as 33 million instead of 38 million in 2050.
Confirming Michael’s words, regarding the problems faced by Polish, low rate Total Fertility Rate (TFR around 1.3) is one of the most challenging of today’s generation. This situation (33 million instead of 38 million in 2050) is likely to take place if radical steps are not taken. I cannot agree with all the arguments, that complex instruments of pro family policy can turn around the above-mentioned situation. It looks like the situation of borrowers who are excited about the slight reduction in interest rates, which in fact marginally affects the their total liabilities. Emotions also heat the media who speculate about the behavior of the monetary policy and the potential to relieve the small borrowers. Unfortunately, in the whole debate it is forgotten – the real aim of easing monetary policy is to stimulate the economy. In short, the problem is not interest rates, or value of loan installments, but the possibility of repayment by the borrower. In order to make this happen, people have to earn money, and that is possible in the economy characterized by comparative advantages. In my view, the same is with demographic situation in Poland. The most important is the ability to give people a sense of security and stability, which is based on employment and a decent salary. Without this, it is unlikely that even the most sophisticated tools to stimulate the pro-family policies will be successful. In the light of the above, I believe that it is pointless to deal with the problems derived, ie the low level of TFR, but instead, it is important to eliminate the underlying problems.
Discussion during one of the „Poland past and future…” meetings was about Polish demography. It was very interesting experience for me, as I am studying sociology. We were shown all of the most information from report called „Poland. 2030”. It was created for the Prime Minister of Poland and edited by Minister Michal Boni.
Graph showing us the situation of Polish population is tragic. It is an alarm – Polish government should reorganise our family policy. What was shocking for me, not only that policy is important. One of the proposals is to change the immigration policy – Poland has to be more friendly for foreigners. Of course, our country do a lot of good things (like scholarships for Belarusian young people), but still we have a lot of challenges in that case. Maybe the European Union can sort out the problem? If Turkey join the EU, it can help with condition of European population.
Middle Polish cities like Szczecin or Elbląg have problem with young people, who leave their homes and decide not to come back. Gazeta Wyborcza published an article „Szczecin się wyludni”, which provoked me to think about it more carefully. Demography problems are becoming more and more important for politicians, who debate about it when they want to join the world of politics. But will they remember about it after they join it?
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