This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, February 7, 2015

New Parental Leave Law in Poland May Have Perked up the Birth Rate

Thanks to Abu Daoud for pointing me to a story on Radio Poland about last year's hike in births in Poland. In a country with one of the world's lowest birth rates (averaging 1.2 children per woman), the fact that births exceeded deaths last year was important news. This increase is generally attributed to the passage of a law in 2013 granting new parents a one-year paid leave from work upon the birth of a child. The positive rate of natural increase was, however, more than offset by net-outmigration (the continued movement of Polish workers to northern and western Europe), and so the country's population was a little lower at the end of 2014 than it had been at the start of that year. Now, to complicate the story even more, the migration out of the country is partly offset by illegal migration into the country, according to another Radio Poland story.
The Polish Border Guard (SG) detained in excess of 4,300 illegal immigrants in 2014, over 800 more than in 2013.According to statistics compiled by the SG's headquarters, Ukrainians were most frequently apprehended (2,000 people), a rise of 100 percent on the previous year. There was also an 80 percent rise in the number of Vietnamese detained without the correct documents (420 people). Other nationalities prominent on the list were Russians (264), Belarusians, Georgians and Syrians. While Vietnamese and Syrians often regard Poland as a gateway to the West, Ukrainians typically want to stay in Poland to find work.
It is easy enough to figure out why people from Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, and Syria would want to go to or through Poland, but Vietnam is not an obvious source country. However, since Vietnam was a French colony, there has been a sizable community of Vietnamese in France especially since the fall of Saigon in 1975 and the communist takeover of the country. Other European countries, including Germany, the UK, and Poland, have also seen substantial increases in Vietnamese immigration over the years. Since migrants tend to be young adults, it is likely that they have contributed at least their fair share to the births in these countries. 

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