Poles must have more children

Boguslaw Kowalski

The government of Donald Tusk has led to the avalanche-like debt of the state. Wanting to find some solution it attempts to liquidate or considerably limit the instruments supporting families. But the unfavourably demographical phenomena are increasing. That requires the government’s reaction: promotion of having children and limitation of the economic burdens connected with the education of young people. That’s why some proposals can lead to especially harmful effects. Statistics do not leave any illusions
351,000 children were born in 2003, the least amount after the war. Last year the situation was a little better since 425,000 children were born. But it is still not enough as compared with the demographic booms of the 1970s and ‘80s. Then over 600,000 children were born every year. And in the record year 1983 there were 724,000 new citizens. Therefore, we are dealing with an almost 50% decrease in birth rate. The situation is worsened by the immigration of young Poles that intensified after Poland’s access to the EU and for several years it is several hundred thousands a year. If this tendency continues it will bring various negative social and economic phenomena in a longer perspective.
We are experiencing negative effects in the retirement system. More and more people leave the labour market and fewer and fewer young people enter it. Consequently, the number of pensioners increases. According to the data of the Social Insurance Company, at the end of May 2010 we had 5 million pensioners. To have some comparison, in 2009 there were average 4,980,000 pensioners a month, in 2008 – 4,770,000 and 2007 – 4,560,000. Within three years ca. 500,000 people have been entitled to retirement allowances. Because of that we lack money to pay the current retirement allowances. They are covered from the contributions paid by professionally active people. Since their number decreases the contributions paid to the Social Insurance Company and Agricultural Social Insurance Fund are not sufficient. For several years the state budget has supported the retirement system paying several-dozen billion zlotys. This year it is a record sum of 80 billion and it was not enough to pay the allowances in September. The missing sum was taken from the Demographic Reserve Fund, which is a reserve put for a rainy day. This year the government has announced that they will do it again and take another 4 billion zlotys, which means that this fund will be almost completely empty. What will happen then?

It is not about alms

Specialists in economy and demography agree on one thing: Poland must have more children. The state must take necessary actions to encourage women, especially those at the age of 25-34, to have more children. These actions must be taken at once since in several years the generation of the demographic boom of the 1980s will get married and will be at their best time – biologically speaking – to enlarge their families.
The implementation of pro-family instruments, introduced with much effort, has been a big achievement recently. These instruments include birth benefits and income tax relief for every child. Let us stress that these instruments should not be treated as help but as a fairer distribution of public burdens. The fact that married couples can deduct from their income taxes certain sums connected with the number of children does not mean that they receive help from the state. They only pay a little less than other childless people having the same income. It is obvious that having and upbringing children incur more expenses. If they bore the same burdens towards the state as those who have no children it would be simply unjust. The more that families have a bigger consumption and pay bigger turnover taxes: VAT and excise duty. So the state earns on them anyway. And if married couples do not earn money and income they have nothing to deduct their children allowances from.

Children are investments

It is the highest time for Poland to change her attitude towards the expenses connected with bearing and upbringing young generations, following the examples of many countries, including Western European ones. So far it has been said that more children means poverty and backwardness. This negative stereotype is confirmed by the liberal mass culture that presents comfort, hedonism and constant entertainment as positive attitudes. The model of traditional family is negated and the promoted patterns are: carrier, being single, i.e. life without stable relationships, and in extreme cases even homosexual attitudes.
As we can see this direction is harmful in the moral and economic dimensions. And that’s why we need a well-thought-out reaction of the state. We should not treat children as ballasts but as investments for the future. Therefore, the whole environment that influences the process of taking decisions about bearing and upbringing children must be friendly.
The plan of the Minister of Finance to limit the right to have an income tax relief only on the third child (or next children) or the liquidation of the birth benefits must be rejected. The very fact of considering such a plan testifies to the old thinking of the government. It must meet decisive criticism, especially that there are many other solutions that can relieve the public finances. For example, bank tax or reducing the contribution to the Open Retirement Funds and the rate of the commission taken.
Further steps should be taken and the state should increase the means to build nurseries and kindergartens as well as increase their personnel. These institutions should work longer hours. It seems necessary to return to paid paternal leaves and prolonging the period one can use them. In the light of the increasing demographical problems active pro-family politics is not a consequence of some programme choice but a fundamental impulse resulting from the instinct for self-preservation. If Poles want to survive as a nation and think about development they must have more children and the state should do its best to support them.

"Niedziela" 41/2010

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: redakcja@niedziela.pl