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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 December 2005, 15:21 GMT
Polish women offered baby bonus
By Adam Easton
BBC News, Warsaw

Polish mother and child
Women's groups say the payments will not address the long-term trend
The Polish parliament has passed legislation to pay women for each new child they have, in an effort to boost the country's falling population.

Birth rates are declining in much of Europe and Poland has one of the lowest in the continent.

The new government has pledged to introduce policies to help families.

Under the scheme every woman will receive a one-off payment of 1,000 zlotys (258 euros; 177) - for each child she has.

Women from poorer families will receive double that amount. The provisions went even further than the government wanted.

It will now have to find an extra 358m zlotys (87m euros; 63m) to fund the project.

Quick fix

Poland has a population of 38 million, about the same size as that of Spain. But birth rates in this staunchly Catholic country have been falling dramatically.

The population has actually decreased by close to half a million in the last six years. But some women's groups say payments are a quick fix and will not address the long-term trend.

They say countries like Sweden and France have been able to reduce their own falling birth rates by providing better child care facilities for working parents and increasing paternity leave.

The new Polish legislation needs to be ratified by the president - a close political ally of the government - before it becomes law.

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Country profile: Poland
20 Dec 05 |  Country profiles

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