One of the bad things about the collapse of Communism is that it led to falling birthrates to well below replacement rate. At first this was a reaction to economic chaos, and the the fact that vast numbers of young Eastern European women were being pushed into the sex trade.
But even after things improved, birthrates still continued to drop in many parts of Eastern Europe, as their societies became focused on consumerism.
Poland was a good example. Even during the turbulent 1980s, when the Solidarity movement was challenging Communist rule, the birthrate stayed above replacement rate, but in 1989 when Communism was effectively defeated, it dropped beneath the vital level of 2.1 births per woman for the first time.
It then went on to drop further, even below that of countries like Germany, which is notorious for its low birth rate. In 2014, the Polish birth rate dropped to a pathetic 376,438 births -- 1.29 births per women or 9.77 births per 1000 people per year.
But now there is some hope that Poland has turned the corner with reports of a baby boom.
According to the newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna, the number of babies being born has been steadily growing since October last year, hitting a seven-year high in January.
Estimates are that up to 400,000 children will be born by the end of 2017. This would be around 1.37 births per women or 10.38 births per 1000 per year. Although still well below replacement level, this is a move in the right direction.
Sadly, however, this is not because of a change in culture, but due to direct economic stimulus. The government recently introduced a “500+” programme, which gives families with two or more children a state handout of 500 Zlotys ($124, 115 Euros) a month per child.
It seems that Europeans have to bribe their women to do what comes naturally in much of the rest of the world.
Poland is currently number 199 in the World rankings of birth rate. The top country is Niger, which has over 46 children per 1000 people annually, or 7.6 children per women.