Family breakdown costs us billions
- In 2019, the minimum cost of a family breakdown in Poland amounted to PLN 5,699 million.
- The breakdown of the family carries numerous costs for public finances, including social welfare, the judiciary, and health care. It also has a negative impact on the fertility rate, the decline of which reduces the labor force and weakens the productive capacity of the economy.
- Experts from Ordo Iuris, Collegium Intermarium. and the Institute of Knowledge about Family and Society prepared a report entitled “Costs of the breakdown of families and marriages in Poland”.
- The Collegium Intermarium university inaugurated the activity of the Family and Demography Research Center.
“From a demographic perspective, the last year was the most difficult since the Second World War. This is not only the effect of the pandemic and the accompanying health care crisis. It is also the result of much more serious and much deeper trends that have been going on for decades and are associated with the crisis of marriage and family. If the current trends do not change, our country will have less than 30 million inhabitants in 2050”, emphasized Dr. Tymoteusz Zych, Rector of Collegium Intermarium.
The first report of the Center for Research on Family and Demography of the Collegium Intermarium deals with the economic costs that the state and therefore every citizen incur each year as a result of family breakdown and marriage. Based on, inter alia, government and research data as well as extensive literature on the subject, it is estimated that in 2019, the minimum cost of family breakdown in Poland was PLN 5,699 million. This amount is mainly made up of the costs incurred by the judiciary in handling divorce and childcare cases. Another category of expenses related to the breakdown of the family and marriage are the costs of social benefits, incl. costs from the alimony fund and social care, which includes expenses incurred in connection with the functioning of foster care and the costs of tax preferences for raising a child alone. The calculation also takes into account the additional costs of health care – on the basis of extensive literature it is known today that, for example, the negative health effects of divorce for spouses and children, resulting e.g. from an increased level of stress and a sense of loneliness, translate into a decrease in immunity or an increase in the tendency to addiction and risky behaviors, consequently increasing the costs of the public health care system
In addition to the costs borne directly by the state budget, the authors also emphasize the importance of social costs, which also have a significant impact on the economy, including demographic costs and lost economic opportunities. The breakdown of the family primarily has a negative impact on the fertility rate, the decline of which leads to a reduction in the labor force and weakens the productive capacity of the economy. It also turns out that the breakdown of the family negatively affects economic mobility and productivity.
The authors of the report indicate that without prioritizing the issue of family structure, it will be difficult to build long-term social development and economic growth. Therefore, they suggest to focus on developing such social, cultural, and economic solutions which will be able to truly support those factors that favor the sustainability of marriages and families, fertility, high-quality socialization, and social cohesion.
“We realize that this may result in shaping ever more bold social and cultural policies. However, we believe that the details of our report may be a useful and reliable point of reference for such policies. At the same time, we are aware that the continuation of our research will allow us to develop better tools to measure this phenomenon and overcome the limitations encountered, such as insufficient data availability, deficits and gaps in public reporting on the project subject, or organizational and financial constraints ”- the authors emphasized in the report.
The authors are planning to publish subsequent editions of the project, in which they will also want to include data obtained from other areas, in order to analyze the problem of the breakdown of families and marriages in Poland more fully and precisely. The importance of these phenomena cannot be overestimated in the context of the future of our society.