The Bulgarian population pyramid has essentially flipped since the beginning of the transition in the 1990s – back then the share of children (aged 15 and below) was 21% and the share of pensioners (65 and up) was 14%.
EU countries are trying desperately to incentivize people to boost the population –to little avail. This phenomenon, in turn, leads to an aging population, which increasingly burdens social systems.
For Slovakia, in particular, as the extremely strong generation of “Husák’s children”* does not have a sufficient population replacement and will start to put a major strain on the health and pension systems in the coming decades.
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.
Family Protection Action Plan, which bears all the hallmarks of an authoritarian staple, is dehumanizing, pits demographic groups against each other and distorts the markets. It also creates a distraction for the citizens and puts the opposition in a corner where their only option is a bidding war.
The introduction of the controversial 500+ program in Poland has so far resulted in no increase in fertility rate. Noteworthy, 12% of the program budget would be sufficient to eliminate extreme child poverty. Meanwhile, 100,000 women were pushed out of the labor market.
Analysts investigating the roots of the PiS’s dominance agree that one of the strongest pillars of its success is a massive universal child benefit scheme called “Family 500+”, providing each and every Polish family with a monthly payment of PLN 500 (ca. EUR 115) for their second and every next underage child.
Ageing of the Polish society means that every year more and more people will reach the retirement age. At the same time, the number of people of working age will be decreasing. In this context, it appears that the pension system reform implemented in 1999 introduced a not very fortunate principle to the Polish pension system.
Demographic change is not a tsunami. It proceeds gradually but steadily, just as the ocean’s tide. It can be foreseen if we simply choose to open our eyes and look at facts.