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The Declining Birth Rate Is A Disaster Caused By Uncertainty Under The Current Government

“I think the last 30 years have shown that we urgently need a Ministry of Demography, which should be one of the key ministries with strong support from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. One of the reasons we are in such a demographic crisis now is that we do not have such a ministry,” believes Aleš Primc.

Only 16,811 births were recorded in Slovenian maternity hospitals last year, which is 613 or 3.5 per cent fewer than in 2022. The final number of children born in 2023 is not yet known (it is estimated that it could be around 17,000); however, it is very possible that the number of births in Slovenia last year was the lowest since records have been kept, which until now has been true for the year 2003 (17,321 children were born that year). After that, the number of births continued to increase until 2010 (in that year, there were 22,002 births). The number of births in 2023, when compared to 2022, decreased in eight maternity hospitals, with the largest decrease recorded in Kranj, the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) reports.

Metka Zevnik from the Movement for Children and Families (Gibanje za otroke in družine) commented on the situation in question, saying: “It’s hard to say what exactly the reason for it is. But the current climate in Slovenia certainly contributes to it. It is total uncertainty; we are facing an uncertain future under this government – while taxes are going up and energy is becoming more expensive. It is difficult for families to predict what will happen.” She also recalled the deteriorating security situation in Europe and the world, which brings additional concerns. Zevnik believes that these are very important circumstances. Another important issue is our attitudes to life, which are not promoted in any way in public discourse: the number of children, births, support for families, etc. The latter has even been made worse recently, with the allowance for the second child being abolished. “We can definitely say that this is not a family-friendly environment.”

“And then there is the promised housing, which is nowhere to be found. I think that young families and young people are filled with pessimism.” Zevnik then went on to talk about how to prevent falling birth rates in the future. She pointed out that neighbouring Hungary had “found a path of encouragement”. It has introduced tax breaks for young families, right up to solving housing problems. This is a good example of how this problem could be tackled. The fact that the government is stable and supportive of the people certainly counts, too. “All this is what contributes to making the situation better. We definitely need something similar to what we already had in the past in Slovenia – an Office for Demography or a department within the Ministry of Labour explicitly in charge of this area,” Zevnik believes.

Non-Slovenian mothers already give birth to around 15 percent of newborns

Aleš Primc, leader of the Movement for Children and Families, also commented on the issue, saying: “I would like to congratulate all the mothers and fathers who have given life to their children. This was one of the best decisions of your lives! The year 2023 was the year with the lowest number of births in the history of Slovenia. The lowest number of births so far was 17,321 in 2003.” Slovenia has had a birth rate that has been too low to replenish its population for 42 years now. Over the last 15 years, the number of foreigners has also been rising sharply, and there are now around 200,000 of them in Slovenia. Non-Slovenian mothers have already given birth to around 15% of newborns.

For more than 20 years, Primc has been pointing to the lack of births and the lack of support for families, girls and boys, and proposing solutions at the same time. If they had been implemented when he first started speaking up about the problem, Slovenia would be in the green today. Unfortunately, Primc notes, during this time, Slovenia has failed to encourage a relatively large generation of young people to take more joy in life. Unfortunately, most governments during this time have spent a lot of time and money on spreading LGBTQIA+ ideology, which does not recognise the importance of a mother and a father for a child, introduces the adoption of children into LGBTQIA+ relationships, and encourages children to undergo so-called gender reassignment. That is to say, they have directly destroyed the role of motherhood and fatherhood and worked to reduce births, Primc has also said.

Training for professions where you can get a job straight away should be promoted

The economy is facing increasing difficulties due to the lack of births, and the healthcare, social security, and pension systems are under threat because of it. We are facing major problems in the education system, nursing homes, and even the civil service – all of these sectors are struggling to recruit workers. Our way of life, as we have known it, is crumbling before our very eyes because of the lack of births over the last 42 years. Primc: “For more joy in life, changes are needed in many areas, from the family home onwards. In-home upbringing, mums and dads, grandmothers and grandfathers, in addition to school and extracurricular activities, need to encourage children to include a family and children of their own in their life plan from an early age.”

Changes are needed in education in terms of education for family life

A number of measures also need to be taken to make it easier to reconcile work and family life. For example, grandparents should be able to go on sick leave to take care of their grandchildren. Changes are also needed in the education system, in terms of education for family life, as well as measures to motivate students to finish their studies as soon as possible. Unnecessary content that is only there to keep certain professors in their jobs must also be eliminated from the curriculum. Training for professions where jobs are readily available should be encouraged. Mechanisms should be put in place for immediate employment after graduation, and tax relief should be given on the wages of young employees to make them more creditworthy, Primc also believes.

Mothers should be rewarded for having children through tax breaks and other incentives

Effective help for young people to get into housing must be put in place. Building new non-profit housing is only one of the tasks that would help solve this issue. It is also necessary to help renovate old housing. The use of as many currently vacant dwellings as possible should be encouraged (more than 20 percent of the housing stock is vacant). Mothers should be rewarded for having children, through tax breaks and other incentives. “We need to restore respect for the mission of mothers and fathers in society. And so on … In short. At least 60 to 70 demographic measures should be implemented immediately in all areas to really show that we as a country and as a society want to become child- and family-friendly.”

We urgently need a Ministry for Demography!

“I think the last 30 years have shown that we urgently need a Ministry of Demography, which should be one of the key ministries with strong support from the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance,” Primc believes. This ministry should have strong core competencies, for example, family and housing policy, but at the same time, a strong coordinating role in all other areas (taxes, education, infrastructure, and others). One of the reasons we are in such a demographic crisis now is that we do not have such a ministry. The previous Janez Janša government basically laid down the foundations for such a ministry to be established in the future, with the Office for Demography, but the current Prime Minister Golob and Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Mesec immediately abolished it. This, unfortunately, brought work in this area to a standstill. With the first normal government we get in the future, we will need to devote enormous attention and financial resources to promoting the joie de vivre, and in the meantime, we should gather the best practices from around the world and develop appropriate measures to help us in this area.

Domen Mezeg

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