January 21, 2006


Maternity leave spurs 'labor' crisis: Increased birthrates are taking women out of the workplace (Iva Skochová, January 11, 2006, The Prague Post)

Patricie Krobová, 35, enjoys the last day in her Prague office before taking leave. Companies must come to terms with a new Czech baby boom.

When one of her team members announced that she would take maternity leave in 2005, Pavlína Matoušková, 29, who works at a large telecommunications company, realized she might just be witnessing the beginning of a mass exodus.

Matoušková is seeing more women take maternity leave now than ever before in her eight years as a human resources manager.

"I am starting to think there is something in the water here," she says. "It seems like everyone is pregnant, especially in our call center."

There appears to be reason to rejoice for those who have long warned about the damage the country's startlingly low birthrate will have on the labor market and the economy: During the past two years, the number of births has seen a dramatic increase, and for a few months in 2005, birthrates even surpassed death rates. [...]

The country's natality is increasing because the baby boom generation of the 1970s is reaching its prime childbearing age, according to an analysis by the the Czech Statistical Office (ČSÚ). Unlike in the United States and Western Europe, where the population soared in the years after World War II, the population explosion in the Czech Republic didn't take place until the communist party introduced major pro-family reforms in 1970s.

The Labor and Social Affairs Ministry recently launched its own reforms aimed at encouraging couples to have children. The reforms provide generous benefit packages and require companies to hold the jobs of employees on leave for up to four years, and, as of April, women will begin receiving a state subsidy of 17,500 Kč ($725) for each newborn child — more than double the current amount.

According to ČSÚ projections, this scope of reform will have little impact on future birthrates. Although the number of births will remain relatively high for the next five years — though not as high as the number of deaths — statistics suggest they could plunge again around 2010 and keep dropping.

It would still require a Great Awakening to save even Poland and the Czech Republic.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 21, 2006 11:59 AM

Extra bonus points for the headline, oj.

Posted by: ghostcat at January 21, 2006 12:07 PM

Having children and children's children is a committment to be ready to fight to keep a place in the sun. Most of those afflicted with the peace-creep mentality are not quite ready to committ personal suicide, but they fall short of the committment to defend the future which leaving issue demands

Posted by: Lou Gots at January 21, 2006 4:24 PM

It's an expression of hope and confidence. Scary, eh?

Posted by: Mikey at January 21, 2006 7:13 PM