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Thinking Twice Before Having Children in Poland

The first thirty minutes of Elzbieta’s day are the most precious.
 
Between five and five-thirty in the morning is the only time she gets to herself, which she uses to work out, or read a book. After that, the grind of everyday life in Poland’s countryside takes over. She cooks, washes, cleans, irons, and cooks for her seven children, aged two to fifteen. And it doesn’t stop until late at night.
 
Elzbieta’s family and other families with multiple children are rather unique in Poland, which has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world. When asked why they didn’t have children in a recent country-wide survey, 71 percent of Poles said unstable employment and difficulties in balancing work and family life were big factors.
 
Their fears are not without reason -- with each child, the risk of poverty increases tremendously -- families with three or more children are more likely to be in the lowest income group, with 26.6 percent of households with four children living in poverty in Poland, according to the Main Statistical Office.
 
Even buying clothes for children is a daunting task, in such cases. “We have started participating in lotteries organized by local clothes stores, with no luck so far,” Elzbieta said. “We do it because taxes for children’s clothes and shoes were recently raised, and families like ours are most affected. Families with children are just not given a chance.”
 
Elzbieta talked to me as she picked flowers in a nearby field, while watching her five-year old daughter. The flowers she collected would later be dried on a bench outside her rural home and used for making herbal teas for the family. Even buying tea is a financial challenge for Elzbieta’s family, whose income, a total of PLN 3,280 (about $1,100) comes from social assistance for children, including a disabled child (PLN 2,000) and her husband’s income – after the payment of a home renovation loan – of PLN1, 280.
 

The Face of Poverty in Europe and Central Asia

 
But hospitality is not to be spared.

We Need a Youth Jobs Revolution

William S. Reese's picture
Also available in: العربية

A young Thai worker at a creative agency that focuses on social innovation productions. © Gerhard Jörén/World BankLet’s face it. If we are ever going to successfully address the worldwide youth unemployment crisis, we need to act together — as a global community. That’s why last year, with the publication of Opportunity for Action, Microsoft and the International Youth Foundation called on leaders in the public, private, youth, and civil society sectors to join a “collective, massive and global” effort to expand job and livelihood opportunities for today’s youth.  
 
Since then, there’s been a real sense of momentum on the issue, particularly among high-level policymakers. Just last week, the World Bank sponsored a lively roundtable discussion the day before its Annual Meetings in Washington, D.C. that echoed the urgent call for collective action around youth unemployment. Speaking to a packed hall filled with finance ministers, private sector executives, and development experts from around the world, the panelists at the “Boosting Shared Prosperity by Getting to Youth Employment Solutions” event offered concrete examples of practical and sustainable solutions to the current crisis. Yet the conversation kept returning to the need to act together to have real impact. 

South East Europe Six: Growth, please!

Željko Bogetic's picture

Just six months ago, in the previous South East Europe Regular Economic Report (SEE RER) covering the six Western Balkan countries of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, FYR Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia (SEE6), we looked at the double-dip recession in this region, and structural policies needed for recovery.
 
Now, we are happy to report that recovery is, indeed, under way in each of these countries. In 2013, the SEE6 region is projected to grow 1.7 percent, thus ending the double-dip recession of 2012. Electricity, agriculture, and even some exports are helping with this rebound of output. Kosovo is leading the pack with a growth rate of 3.1 percent, with Serbia (which accounts for nearly half of the region’s GDP) expected to grow by 2 percent on the heels of increased FDI, exports, and a return to normal agricultural crops. (In 2012, by contrast, agricultural output in Serbia dropped 20 percent on account of a severe drought). Albania, FYR Macedonia, and Montenegro are all expected to grow by between 1.2-1.6 percent. Rounding out this group is Bosnia and Herzegovina – with expected growth of 0.5 percent.
 
So, are things finally looking up in the Balkans? Not exactly.

Figure 1: SEE6 Unemployment Rates, 2012

Source: LFS data and ILO. Kosovo’s tentative data suggest unemployment as high as 35 percent.

International Women's Day: A Serbian Perspective

By Mirjana Popovic and Vesna Kostic

Mar. 8: Working Women’s Day or Jobless Women’s Day in Serbia?

By Mirjana Popovic, Online Communications Producer

In the former Yugoslavia, where I was born, International Women’s Day used to celebrate respect and appreciation for women in society: mothers, wives, female colleagues – in this order.

What is it like in today’s Serbia? The glory of the holiday has faded and new challenges have arisen.

Longreads: Future Foods, Car Index, Mexico's Middle Class, Gen U and Africa's Era of Unemployment

Donna Barne's picture

Find a good longread on development? Tweet it to @worldbank with the hashtag #longreads.

 

Amid Olympics chatter, concern continues to grow over extreme weather and rising food prices, with many tweeting this week about IRIN’s “Food: Price Shock Hotspots.” BBC News Magazine  looks at possible future climate-friendly food stuffs —including insects, lab-grown meat, and algae—in “Future Foods: What Will We Be Eating in 20 Year’s Time?” Demand for protein is expected to expand along with the global middle class—which may be as large as 600 million people in G20 developing countries, according to a Carnegie Endowment paper, "In Search of the Global Middle Class." Authors Uri Dadush and Shimelse Ali argue their "Car Index" of the number of cars in circulation provides "a relatively good measure of the number of middle-class households." A  BRIC economy is the subject of the Washington Post’s "Returning Migrants Boost Mexico’s Middle Class" -- a look at how immigrants’ savings are being used back home. In Africa, progress could be hampered by jobless growth and growing numbers of jobless young people, according to "Generation U – Africa’s Era of Unemployment."

Chief Economist says financial crisis has 'left a scar'

Alison Schafer's picture

The global financial crisis may be easing, but it is far from over, according to the World Bank’s chief economist.  The World Bank is holding its annual meetings in Istanbul, Turkey, and those meetings prompted an assessment of the global economy from Justin Lin.

Lin is the World Bank’s chief economist, and he says the situation may be improving, but the financial crisis of 2008-2009 “has left a scar”.  He warns that it will be years before developing economies bounce back.

 

 

Lin, meeting with other leading economists at the Council of Chief Economists Roundtable in Turkey, reminded them that the world needs to be ready for the challenge of fixing the damage left by the crisis.

For example, Lin says, the residue from the financial crisis will be apparent for years, with unemployment high and consumption low. He says that India will bounce back with an 8 percent growth rate, but the country was roaring along at 10 percent before the crisis. Ethiopia, he says, will come back at 7 to five percent, and but it was showing what he called “high” rates of growth of 11 percent before last fall.

Youth Unemployment in Africa

Nina Vucenik's picture


Laborer working on an irrigation project. Tanzania. Photo: Scott Wallace / World BankExperts on youth and employment from Ghana, Kenya, Mali, and Colombia met on Saturday as the Spring Meetings got underway to discuss the growing problem of youth unemployment in Africa. The high-level panel, chaired by Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank vice president for the Africa Region, agreed that there are no easy solutions to the problem.


“Youth in urban areas are looking for jobs alongside thousands of others from the same schools, while rural youth are flooding into the cities looking for work,” said Sanoussi Toure, the Minister of Finance of Mali. “This is a tragedy. Our policies favor investment in education and training, but this investment has not led to job creation.”

Key points that came out of the meeting included:

  • There are no easy solutions to the problem of youth unemployment. 
  • Youth employment has to be part of the growth strategy of every African country.
  • Employment policies need to favor investment in education and training.

 

Portrait of woman. Kenya. Photo: © Curt Carnemark / World Bank The panel also included Mauricio Cárdenas, former Colombian Minister of Transport and Economic Planning. Cárdenas talked about the outcomes of two youth programs Colombia put in place during his country's economic crisis in the late 1990s, when external shocks drove unemployment from 10 to 20 percent, and youth unemployment to 30 percent.

It is clear that youth unemployment in Africa needs to be addressed from many entry points, Ezekwesili said in her concluding remarks.

“The profile of unemployed youth has to enter the way we think, just as gender has. Youth need to be effectively targeted in everything we do, so that they will have a stake in the future,” Ezekwesili said.

Story: Youth Unemployment a Major Challenge for African Countries