What impact is Poland's new child benefit having?
In its first year in office Poland's national-conservative PiS government launched its flagship child benefit scheme "500plus". Poor families will receive a monthly benefit of 500 złoty [around 115 euro] from the first child onwards, while better-off families can claim the benefit for the second and subsequent children. The Polish media review the success of the programme.
Work may no longer be worthwhile for Polish women
Child benefit could deprive poor Polish women of the motivation to work, Gazeta Wyborcza fears:
“Currently there are no reliable data to suggest that Polish women are giving up work because of the programme. But such a scenario cannot be ruled out, because it certainly gives them a reason to do so. ... The level of wages is the key factor here. In small towns and villages wages are low. If people give up work in those places, they don’t lose very much. A mother of two children, for instance, earns 1,600 złoty [around 360 euro] and her husband perhaps only 2,000 złoty [450 euro]. If the woman gives up work, she automatically has a right to 500 złoty as well as state parental support and social assistance. She also saves several hundred złoty in babysitting fees. She doesn't have to spend money getting to work or buying the clothes she needs for work. And she no longer has to put up with her bothersome boss.”
Families use money sensibly
The deputy minister for health Bartosz Marczuk lavishly praises the PiS government's child benefit policy in a guest commentary for Rzeczpospolita:
“When the project was drawn up in the Sejm I often heard people saying that the parents would spend the money on drink. That they were immature and would waste it or wouldn't know what to do with it. For this reason it was proposed that we should stipulate in the law how the money was to be spent. We rejected this idea and with it the Left's patriarchal way of dealing with the people. Because parents are the best friends of their children. Therefore they know best how the money should be spent, not we representatives of the state. And this has been confirmed. The wasting of resources has been minimal. Only around 1,000 out of 2.8 million families have been warned on these grounds.”