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 12th (it came out in 2015), 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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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Will People in Poland Start Breeding Like Rabbits?

Thanks to Justin Stoler for the link to a BBC video on a new attempt by the Polish government to get people to raise the birth rate--encouraging them to "breed like rabbits". The video also reminds us of other attempts at this, including the Danish advertisement aimed at getting young adults to think romantically and not just have sex, but to have kids.

I'm guessing that this will not be an easy sell in Poland. The country's total fertility rate dropped down to replacement level way back in 1990, and it has slowly slipped since then down to almost 1.3. The slowness of the drop has been beneficial in the sense that it has not sent huge shocks through the age structure. Poland is aging, right along with the rest of Europe, but the population aged 20-64 (working ages) has been pretty steady at about 65% of the population. At the moment there are just about as many people under 20 as there are 65 and older. The total population size peaked in 2000 at just above 38 million, and it is still above 38 million, so there is nothing to suggest pushing the panic button.

It seems likely that this attempt to raise the birth rate is meant as a pushback against complaints by the EU that Poland has refused to accept any refugees from the Middle East. The Telegraph noted a couple of months ago that the new right-wing government in Poland is not interested in accepting refugees. Since refugees tend to be young adults--often with their children--they could be seen as an alternative to native Poles raising their birth rate, but that is clearly not currently a popular option in Poland. (And, by the way, the Danes are not interested in new refugees, either...)

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