The Government's Demographic Strategy 2040 will not Help with the Demographic Crisis
The cost of the state's family policy reached PLN 70 billion in 2020. By comparison, spending on countering the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating the effects of the economic lockdown amounted to PLN 103 billion, and spending on defense amounted to PLN 42 billion. Many wonder whether, given the falling birth rate, public spending on family policy is excessive in relation to the effects achieved. In a recent study by Sadura and Sierakowski, as many as 55% of Poles agreed with the statement that too much is spent on benefits for families.
The draft Demographic Strategy 2040 presented by the government does not provide an answer to the question about the effectiveness of family policy. It is also not a strategy responding to the demographic crisis, nor does it solve any problems of the labour market in the 2040 perspective, as it deals selectively with fertility (and even if fertility did indeed increase, the effects would come only in the following decades). In the 2040 perspective, the key is immigration, activating seniors and raising the effective retirement age.
The draft Strategy is based on an erroneous fertility rate, since official data does not take into account emigration from Poland after accession to the European Union. Therefore, it is worth asking what purpose, apart from the electoral one, is there in conducting a pro-natalist policy without basic data. Even at the outset, little can be learned from an analysis of fertility rates in comparison with the EU, its projections and growth targets until 2040. Similarly, it is difficult to evaluate the programs to date.
The government, instead of describing the key problems in depth, is expanding into many side areas and, as a result, does not describe any of them in a convincing or thourough manner. For example, the problem of housing availability is described without emphasizing the need to focus on rental development, and infertility is described without mentioning in vitro procedures.
The draft Strategy considers the lack of flexibility of parents' work as one of the main challenges to increasing fertility and notes (similarly to FOR) the problem of rigidity of the working time code. However, instead of making the law more flexible, the government promises a rigidity that will discourage rather than help the employment of parents of young children and young adults.
Contact the author:
Rafał Trzeciakowski, FOR economist
Files to download