DYING OUT NATION
In 2013, for the first time in Poland the negative natural increase had been registered. The number of deaths exceeded the number of births by about 40 thousand
Statistics do not leave any illusions. In the end of 2013 the population of Poland was 38.496 million, that is, less by about 37 thousand in the ratio to the population from the end of 2012. The year 2013 was the second year when the number of the population decreased in the ratio to the earlier years – 2008-11. We have not got used to this problem yet. We think that enough children are still born in our country. In the first half of the 80s of the last century about 600 thousand children were born. And it is not distanced time that the number of births has decreased to 300 thousand now. On the background of Europe the aging process of the society in our country will be the most rapid. According to data of Eurostat, after the year 2020 people at the age of over 60 will be 25 percent of the population in our country. Such a rapid aging of the nation in the near future does not hinder the sleep of the governing. Nothing is being done to provide senior people with the decent old age. And the pro-family policy of the government, with its purpose of improving our demography, is like using para-medicaments to fight a dangerous illness. Prof. Krzysztof Rybinski – a rector of the Finances and Business Academy Vistula in Warsaw says that relatively equalized number of births and deaths will still remain so for a dozen years. – When the generation of elderly people starts to diverge from the baby boom, in the 30s every year 250 thousand babies will be born, and 540 thousand elderly people will die. It means that every year the city of two thousand inhabitants will disappear from Poland every year (…). In the warning prognosis of the UNO we can read that in 2100 there will be only 16 million of us. As a result of the Second World War, we lost 10 million and now 20 million people – he says.
On the basis of the prognosis of the Social Insurance Company we can find out that in 2060 the number of the population in Poland will decrease by 8 million: from the current 38.3 million to 30.56 million. In order to understand it, we must refer to our imagination: on the map we outline an area of voivodeships inhabited by 8.1 million people, that is, the voivodeship of Podkarpacie, Warmia- Mazury, Opole, as a not inhabited area.
What is the cause of the fact that in our country the fertility rate is systematically decreasing and is 1.2-1.3 of children? We take the 214th place among 223 countries in the sphere of fertility rate. In order to rebuild population, it is necessary for Poles to give birth to 2.1 children. And it is not going to happen. There is no chance for improving the number of births within the nearest 30 years. For, the number of women at the reproductive age is not going to increase. The low fertility rate from the past is to be blamed for it. Prof. Jozef Pociecha, a demographer and a statistician, a director of the Statistics Department of the Economic University in Krakow says about factors which have an influence on demography in Poland. They include: economy, fertility rate and migration.
Our real plague is high migration of the young generation. Not only one throughout a few dozen years. Prof. Anna Pawelczynska, a sociologist notes that mass departures of Poles connected with the martial law is ‘the biggest crime of Jaruzelski’. It is estimated that at that time a million of people emigrated, and only a few of them returned to Homeland. – And now there is another demographic catastrophe – the professor says – which should be associated with the surname of Tusk, with economic emigration which is making young people leave the country again.
Prof. Krystyna Iglicka – Okolska, a rector of the University of Lazarski thinks that within 5 years, other 500-800 thousand people will leave Poland. They will join 2.1 million current emigrants. The data of the Main Statistics Office say that for over a year about 1.6 million of our compatriots have been abroad. According to the EU regulations, from the next year they will not be included into the population of Poland. The realistic number of Poles will be 37.1 million like in 1984. Mainly young people are leaving, after finishing their studies. Poland is one of very few countries which educate its citizens, and later does not give these young people any perspectives. What is the most painful is the lack of professional staff in the health service. Both doctors and nurses are leaving for western countries. Students of medicine say: ‘When I finish my studies I am going to leave the country. I am not going to work hard for poor money’. Now we must wait for many months to go to a specialist and in many hospital wards patients must take care of themselves on their own. One can be afraid of thinking what is going to be in a few years, if the wave of emigration is not stopped. And this is so in many jobs. According to the latest report of the Foundation Energy for Europe one can find out why young Poles decide to emigrate. The lack of perspectives, impossibility to get away from a range of temporary jobs, feeling of no sense of studying, being dependent financially on parents and the lack of faith in anything good in Poland. These are the opinions of young people who are frustrated.
May it be only a pessimistic vision of impatient Poles who want to have everything served on a plate at once? Those people are leaving the country, agreeing to uncertainty of life abroad, a difficult beginning. However, they know that when they overcome barriers, they will be able to live in a different way. This perspective of a better life drives them to this decision. Not only is it hard to live in Poland, but there is also impossible to see a chance for a better future. With the devastated productive industry and unemployment resulting from it, one cannot hope for a quick change. – We decided to leave for England – says Anna, a young chemist – because we want our children to have a better life. I and my husband have been married for 10 years, we graduated from university 12 years ago, we did not have our own flat, we were in danger of unemployment, low wages, and we were facing a perspective – education of children. Two years ago we decided to leave for Great Britain. The beginnings were difficult but now we have a flat, a well-paid job and the sense of stability. The system of tax reliefs is in Great Britain very developed, as well as there are various benefits for children – benefit for those who earn little, benefits for all parents regardless of their income, an amount to pay care of children, etc. We only miss our parents. I hope that after some time we will be able to bring them to us.
Poland is a country of many absurdities. Indeed the efficiency of work and domestic gross product increased significantly, but they are not adequate to the amount of salaries. For the first time since transformation of the system, amounts of salaries are dropping. Each Pole works approximately over 2 thousand hours annually. We take the 3rd place among countries of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. Prof. Jadwiga Staniszkis, a sociologist estimated that if salaries had increased proportionally to work efficiency for the last several years, at present the average salary would be higher by 1000 zlotys.
Everyone know the situation connected with flats for young couples. Repayment of loans nearly till retirement with constant fear of losing work is already a standard. But from January 1 this year, an additional difficulty has been implemented. Now everyone who would like to buy a flat or a house on credit, will have to have much savings. Recommendation of the Commission of Financial Supervision forbids to give loans to people who do not have any financial input. An appearing governmental program ‘A flat for the young’ is supposed to be a lifeline. Its purpose is to provide means for one’s own financial input. But it concerns only the purchase of new flats. Isn’t it an attempt to support developers?...
Fertility rate of Polish women is 1.2-1.3 children. Why don’t Polish women want to give birth to their children in Poland, but they emigrate, for example, to Great Britain, and they beome mothers of two or three children there? It is obvious that the cause for the low fertility rate is a financial barrier. Families with many children pay higher taxes than families with one child. Today’s tax reliefs do not make sense. They are very minimal amounts. It makes an absurd system in which a poor family does not have a right to have children. An expectant mother is afraid of losing work after the birth of her baby; she cannot allow for having maternity leave and does not know what to do with her baby when she will have to come back to work. Not everyone has a grandmother, aunt or a cousin to ask for help with a child, and it is not easy to get a place for a child in a nursery. Besides that, not all mothers would decide to send their children to a nursery. We know that the presence of mothers for the first three years of a child’s life is very important.
A big simplicity would be an opinion that only economic issues are a barrier for the low number of births. We must notice that in today’s times the model of life has changed. In the name of feminist mottos women want to be liberalized, realize themselves professionally, take care of their physical appearance. They are terrified with the vision of constant preparing baby soups, nappies and ‘being tied to’ housework. They hesitate with making a decision about setting a family and they give birth to children at a quite late age. They often live here and now, not thinking about the future.
Prof. Anna Pawelczynska also notes the ideological war: - People are deprived of the right to have children. It is also one of the causes for demographic collapse. A different thing is to bring up children in the way in which one wants, and a different thing is to bring up children according to the example imposed by groups of interests – she thinks.
Attempts to come out of the collapse
The improvement of the demographic situation are long-term actions. The quickest and the most effective action seems to be an economic variant. Nearly two years ago prof. Krzysztof Rybinski caused a ‘bomb of laughter’ among the governing, with a suggestion of paying off demographic scholarship at the amount of 1000 zlotys per every child till his/her age of 18. This idea was mocked at without any discussion. However, it is worth reflecting on it. After all, its author is a famous and appreciated professor of economy who says about his project: - Where can we take money from? In the first year of paying off scholarship its cost would be 6 milliard zlotys. Every next year the amount would increase by other 6 milliard zlotys. In the end of the cycle, after 18 years, expenditures would be 100 milliard zlotys. And here on the guard of their interests there are powerful groups making business laws in Poland. 1/3 enacted bills which generate budget expenditures, realize the interests of pressure groups. It happens at the cost of the public interest. If it was possible to correct it, we would save 30 milliard zlotys. 6 milliard zlotys would be assigned for demographic purposes, the rest of the amount would be assigned for a reserve. And juts this reserve would be sufficient for realizing this program. If there was shortage of money, there is still 60 milliard zlotys coming from absurd tax reliefs. Some of these reliefs could be liquidated and these will be the ones which go to pressure groups. These are the groups which have organized these reliefs for themselves. Certainly, the scholarship plan can be corrected: paying off 1000 zlotys till a child’s age of 10 or starting paying off only in the case of the second child.
The chairman of the Law and Justice party Jaroslaw Kaczynski says that facing the demographic crisis, the European Union should pursue the pro-family policy. Countries would have to assign 1 per cent of their Domestic Gross Product for this purpose. Then 500 zlotys would be assigned for every child in Poland monthly.
It is worth reflecting on these suggestions because time is running…