Kaczyński is right: The collapse of Poland’s fertility rate is driven by cultural and social factors

Poland’s conservative leader said that the high drinking rate among young women is dramatically affecting the birth rate, and he has a point

editor: Grzegorz Adamczyk
author: Jacek Karnowski

There is outrage from Poland’s liberal media and among opposition politicians after Law and Justice (PiS) leader Jarosław Kaczyński claimed that excessive drinking among young women was to blame for the country’s low birthrate. However, the reality is that problems with alcohol have had numerous consequence for Polish society, with falling birthrates being just one of them.

“If we see a continuation of the situation where, until the age of 25, young women drink as much as men their age, then there will be no children,” Jarosław Kaczyński said on Saturday during a public meeting in Ełk in northeastern Poland.

The reaction to Kaczyński’s statement about the alcohol plague among women, especially younger women, will be the same as with hundreds of his statements. First, there is outrage and mockery, foollowed by attempts to manipulate and politicize his words. Finally, there is recognition of the problem mentioned and realization that something has to be done about it.

Poland needs this discussion about the most important of topics because its debates, disputes, and fights often overlook what is most important. The issue of demographics, healthy families, and the way young generations are raised are essential matters for our society.

Poles increasingly do not look good in these key areas, even compared to countries of the region. This is true for the entire Western world, which is facing a civilizational crisis, but the impact is much stronger here in Poland than elsewhere. This is always the case with societies that previously stood strong and survived many storms but then, when faced with an unfortunately successful attack on their foundations, begin to waver.

In the case of Poland, those foundations were the Christian values that today are being destroyed with an extraordinary force. They are destroyed by people who take advantage of misguided, young people and pretend that it is not their fault. At most, they will offer them a referral to a psychologist, who — not always, but often — will only deepen their issues because he will treat only the symptoms and not the cause.

The collapse of fertility rates has economic reasons, but most importantly it has been caused by cultural and social factors. If the material factor was the only issue, the West would not have the same problems across the board, as demonstrated by far richer countries such as Spain and Germany, where the fertility rates among native inhabitants are even lower than in Poland. The statistics pointing to a higher birth rate in some wealthier Western countries are inflated by immigrants.

This dramatic phenomenon cannot be turned around using only one solution or one social program. It must be made a focal point of the entire activity of the state. And it has to be a strong state.

Hungarians show us how it is done; they have reversed the negative trend while being in an even tougher cultural situation than Poland. Despite the challenges, Hungary supports families and communicates a positive pro-family stance to the entire public, including in the opposition media.

It is a good thing that the leader of Law and Justice started this debate. If we do not want Poles to be reduced to a small nation, if we want Poland to prevail, we cannot ignore even the most unpleasant, difficult topics.

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