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Enjoy Bulgaria While It Lasts

Novinite Insider » EDITORIAL | Author: Milena Hristova |March 30, 2007, Friday // 00:00| Views: 1710 | Comments: 29
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Bulgaria: Enjoy Bulgaria While It Lasts Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia Photo Agency)

Surveys about gloomy demographics - we have a surfeit of them. It is only rarely that they provoke thoughts, but we should never underestimate their power to provoke guilt. Young working people and pensioners both experienced a shudder of self-reproach as a new survey about the headlong fall in Bulgaria's demography was published this week.

Bulgaria is the youngest member of the European Union, yet it has the most grey-haired demographic picture, the latest survey showed. The number of working Bulgarians nearly equals the number of pensioners, who steadily exceed the number of babies born.

The burden on the social security system is getting heavier, experts say, but fail to provide solutions to the problems that this will trigger. The state may force people to retire a few years later, but this will hardly make up for the shortage of young workers. The social security system, in its turn, will fail to take care of the increasing numbers of pensioners.

The dynamics in demography has been the same for quite a time already and the figures are hardly debated in Bulgaria. And even if they were debated, it is unlikely that Bulgarians would start making babies because of statistics.

It is a rule, however, that the individual knows how to tackle the future, while the state as a whole does not. Small wonder another survey showed that Bulgarians are among the quickest to find their feet and adapt to new environment after moving to live in a EU member state. Sadly, at the expense of their national identity.
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» To the forumComments (29)
#29
Kolega - 6 Apr 2007 // 16:44:23

Observer"
"low taxes_ causing a failure to provide basic public services:"
"(down to zero? below zero?)"

I love it when Lefties like you offer those kinds of ridiculous scenarios as an alternative to Socialism.

Observer:
"For instance, ask any corporate relocation specialist. Taxes are simply not the only or even the single most important factor. That's a myth."

They are the most important factor. It's also labor laws, and availability of workforce.
Tons of companies are moving to Nevada and Arizona (from California) because of the tax incentives, but also because they are "right to work" states - i.e. one is free NOT to belong to labor unions.
(the quality of life ties in with the availability of work force).


"Adequate wage in Bulgaria are a problem, too. Until that problem is addessed and addressed also by changes in public policy then the answer to the question...."

Governments don't pay the wages.
Wages are directly connected with cost of living, and that is connected to overall productivity level of a country.
Bulgaria's problem is that we have very low productivity of labor, a problem easily remedied by younger work force, but alas - we don't have that either....

Our low productivity is connected to the lack of competitive style economy through the second part of the 20th century - a time of unprecedented gains in that regard, by the rest of the world.
We've also had government controlled higher education system and as a consequence very slow to react to changing needs of the market - with other words, much of the skills are obsolete

"And in America if every young person couldn't buy insurance without paying up for all the years he or she didn't have it"
That would be bad, but luckily for the Americans, their health isn't related to their government, (although 60% of the healthcare bills are payed by the government, as opposed to 80 -90% in Europe).

In Bulgaria we still have this nightmare vestiges of Socialism.
For my American friends here:
Can you imagine having the IRS involved in your health issues?
That's what we are dealing with, and it is a nightmare. In order to get health insurance, one has to pay "his dues" for the time when he wasn't "contributing" - kind of like back taxes owed.


"I'll ignore your racial slur about Roma as unworthy of comment."

What racial slur?
Bulgarians too poor to afford basics, rarely have children - not the case with Gipsies. You call realistic descriptions "racial slurs" and soon enough you'll stifle debates, oh I forgot - it's how you folks like it;)

#28
DP - 5 Apr 2007 // 21:09:28

“And lack of wage growth in the budgetary sector is a real problem now, where railway workers have experienced actual pay cuts and nurses are making only the minimum monthly wage. Neither, of course, are allowed to strike, unaccountably.”

Observer,
Just like to comment on this quote of yours. You state that the lack of wage growth in the budgetary sector is a real problem now for nurses and railway workers and neither of them are allowed to strike, UNACOUNTABLY. Glad to hear that in BG they have gone this road of solving labour problems for it is the worst possible situation when those involved in providing essential services are using their special position to use sick people, children, poor people as hostages. It is arbitration, not striking, the way to solve labour disputes. With this paragraph you demonstrate once again that you do not care for, understand, or believe in the free enterprise system. Man, you need to be reeducated!;-)))))

#27
Observer - 5 Apr 2007 // 19:23:42

As for "2. improving the life of retirees may slow down their death rate, although we are at the point where higher mortality rate for older folks in BG would be the a very positive development..."

I am assuming that the high mortality rate in Bulgaria is due to poverty among senior citizens. I could be wrong, though, about its location. It could be localized somewhere else, or even spread more widely.

If the primary casual factor here is elderly poverty, then of course an adequate (not generous) pension would affect the death rate in Bulgaria significantly. [I write this I see that the DSB of Ivan Kostov proposed backdating the next pension increase. Will wonders never cease! Perhaps people found out that the cumulative retro payments for lapsed health insurance was his administration's idea]

The economic reason you (half seriously) point to is that dead people are cheaper than living ones. That doesn't recommend policies to encourage death, however!

And, no, neither old people nor children nor anybody else are 'indestructible.' Nor even the unemployed or the half-employed or those employed in the grey economy. Would that were the case.

#26
Observer - 5 Apr 2007 // 19:22:23

Sure, economic growth on the margin, especially where it is widely shared, is associated with marginal demographic improvement.

You seem to think that the preferred method for economic growth is lowering taxes on corporate profits. It's the only one you talk about.

That's not always or everywhere the case. Economic growth can be hindered by a _low taxes_ causing a failure to provide basic public services: education for a skilled workforce, health care, police protection, adequate commercial courts.

Growth can be hindered either by the consequences of too high - or by consequences of too low - taxes. But it is simply not the case that lowering corporate taxes (down to zero? below zero?) is always and everywhere beneficial in each case.

For instance, ask any corporate relocation specialist. Taxes are simply not the only or even the single most important factor. That's a myth.

Also, a lack of adequate wage growth can also restrain Bulgaria's economic recovery and growth (This just to wave a red flag in front of you!). And lack of wage growth in the budgetary sector is a real problem now, where railway workers have experienced actual pay cuts and nurses are making only the minimum monthly wage. Neither, of course, are allowed to strike, unaccountably.

Adequate wage in Bulgaria are a problem, too. Until that problem is addessed and addressed also by changes in public policy then the answer to the question "Quo vadis Bulgaria?" will be: "Oh, to Germany, England, Spain, the US. . . ."

But you do seem to miss the point about adjustments to Bulgarian health care financing that can help stop the needless death of children ("infant mortality").

You write: "No, 1. the "unemployed with children" tend to be of Gipsy origin, and their birth rate isn't in danger any time soon."

This confuses the infant mortality rate with the birth rate. Your response is that the infant mortality in Bulgaria is hardly a problem, since families can always have more children. I'll ignore your racial slur about Roma as unworthy of comment.

Why not just let people buy health insurance without paying for every back month, or even let the unemployed have it for free just like the elderly? You can't get blood out of a turnip. And in America if every young person couldn't buy insurance without paying up for all the years he or she didn't have it - well, then we'd see some more weird demographics and (even greater) infant mortality there, too!

#25
Kolega - 5 Apr 2007 // 17:31:05

Observer:
"Kolega, your consistent hostility to the welfare state and the taxes necessary to find it is unmistakable to anyone who reads your posts."

No-o-o! Whatever gave you that idea?

"Two things are inevitable: death and taxes. But taxes don't cause death."

Yes, but HIGH taxes can slow down economic growth, and THAT can, in a civilized country, slow down birth rates and increase death rates as well by causing depressed, idle folks to drink themselves to death, as they've been doing in Russia for the last few decades before Putin.
Poland's alcoholism, - among the most legendary in Eastern Europe, is dramatically down right now, as youth is too busy building their personal future, again due to strong economic growth and foreign investment, brought about by enlighten (lower) tax climate..

So you see, it does comes together - economic growth and demographic health is connected, not just to suit my "ideology", but in reality - a concept sadly foreign to the folks of Leftsville;)

As far as BG:
"The quickest and easiest way to bring the mortality rate down in Bulgaria would be to (a) improve access to health care among the unemployed with children, and to (b) increase the size of the pensions there to lift retirees out of poverty."

No,
1. the "unemployed with children" tend to be of Gipsy origin, and their birth rate isn't in danger any time soon.
2. improving the life of retirees may slow down their death rate, although we are at the point where higher mortality rate for older folks in BG would be the a very positive development...
No hope of that though... they seem indestructible....

#24
Observer - 5 Apr 2007 // 07:00:41

2) As for Russia, I find it hard to believe that an increase in the corporate tax rate above the present 15% in that country would cause a either (a) an increase in deaths or (b) a decrease in births.

Were I confronted, however, by numerous pregnant Russian women who complained to me that, "since oil companies have to pay a higher tax rate than individuals, it hardly seems worthwhile to bring my child into the world," I would of course reverse my position.

Likewise, if an increase in the Russia corporate profits tax were greated by a massive increase in suicides there, I would have to do a rethink.

Two things are inevitable: death and taxes. But taxes don't cause death.

The demography I know links quick changes in population size to mortality reduction.

Mortality reduction is primarily a function of reducing the number of people living in poverty. Poverty is significant mostly because it reflects lack of access to health care and lack of adequate nutrition, among other factors (Lesser but still real factors include violence, job injury, psychological stress, etc.).

The quickest and easiest way to bring the mortality rate down in Bulgaria would be to (a) improve access to health care among the unemployed with children, and to (b) increase the size of the pensions there to lift retirees out of poverty.

Or Bulgaria could discover huge oil deposits.

#23
Observer - 5 Apr 2007 // 06:58:28

N.B. The reader should note that both of my last two entries (above) form part of one single essay, an essay which had to be split up by reason of limited space.

Kolega, your consistent hostility to the welfare state and the taxes necessary to find it is unmistakable to anyone who reads your posts. Here in a couple of places you advocacy is a bit over the top.

You write:

'Interestingly, Western Europe's overall generous welfare ("economic incentives" did you call it?) has also brought their birth rate to the near disastrous level of Eastern Europe and Bulgaria'

-and-

'Probably right [that "higher oil export revenues has much to do with the improved Russian economy and demographics"] although I have another sneaky suspicion here, that you seem to conveniently overlook: Russia has 15% flat across the board tax. . . . ."

A couple of points.

1) In the history western Europe after 1945 near-universal health care and budgetary pensions became widely available. AND the birth rate also fell then.

Did the first _cause_ the second? You say so ("welfare . . . brought their birth rate to the level of Eastern Europe. . ."), but that doesn't follow, logically. Other factors such as the changing role of women and attitudes toward family and birth control played a role, as other contributors to this board have pointed out.

But contemporaneity in time doesn't mean that the one causes the other. That's a logical fallacy: post hoc ergo non prompter hoc. You have to explain the causation, not just assume or imply it simply because both occurred in the same period, and because it fits your ideology that they should do so.

Nor does it follow that the availabililty of child- or family- subsidy incentives perversely cause a _decline_ children or family size.

The assumption would be that things would be even worse if these child-bearing incentives were not on offer. That was the intent, after all.

The goal of public policy often is problem limitation, after all, rather than problem elimination. For instance, we have police to limit crime, not to eliminate all law-breaking.

#22
Kolega - 4 Apr 2007 // 18:54:50

Observer:
"I suspect that the higher oil export revenues has much to do with the improved Russian economy and demographics, something for which Putin can claim little credit. "

Probably right although I have another sneaky suspicion here, that you seem to conveniently overlook:
Russia has 15% flat across the board tax, from the poorest to the richest individuals or corporation - a single mother and LukOil pay the same 15% tax - that has much to do with Russia's 8% growth as well;)
The Americans with their 30-40+% corporate and individual tax can only dream about that kind of dynamism.... Europe is worse off yet....

#21
Kolega - 4 Apr 2007 // 17:49:39

Creepy:
"The problem is how to persuade educated BG women to have 2 children just to keep the status quo."

Like Observer says - subsidies, my friend!'

I've been thinking: wouldn't it be wonderful to have a BG babe, that will give me couple of nice Bulgarian babies - it will strengthen my connection with BG!
I bet all I have to do is "subsidize" her with a nice apartment in the center of Sofia, a decent car and 1000 Euros a month - easy!

My wife isn't on board yet... although, I've been able to talk women into stranger things, the charmer that I am;) .... Big Love baby - do you guys have that show?

#20
CreepyS - 4 Apr 2007 // 10:13:54

Kolega,

Hehe, you see - you dont want predominantly Asian-African BG, or predominantly Gipso-Turkish BG, me neither. You got everything right with the Belgian losers who make babies just to take SS money - so thats not a solution either.

The problem is how to persuade educated BG women to have 2 children just to keep the status quo. Its even important for the economy - bigger and younger population means more work force and bigger local market.

#19
Observer - 4 Apr 2007 // 09:24:52

So this 'poll tax' approach to health insurance in Bulgaria isn't going to collect a lot of owed leva, and I would wager is causing a lot of health problems to go untreated, and is contributing quite a bit to infant mortality in Bulgaria.

That's the easiest way to address the demographic problem in Bulgaria. I think that the country is going to have to adopt some sort of child subsidy eventually, too, and we can policy-wonk the various options, based on the experience of various programs in various countries.

For all that, this infant mortality matter is the low-hanging fruit of the demographic problem in Bulgaria, and indeed in any country. Easy and cheap. Most 'bang for the buck,' so to speak.

And infant mortality in Bulgaria is just terrible these days: 19.85 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.). No excuse for that.

In Belgium it's a mere 4.62 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.). That's excellent!

Yet Bulgarian infant mortality today is even worse than Russia's!
Russia: 15.13 deaths/1,000 live births (2006 est.).

Now _that_ comparision should give everyone pause for thought! Bulgaria worse than Russia!

(And to find out who is behind all these sinister statistics, you too can access demographic info on their website at https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/rs.html#People :)!

#18
Observer - 4 Apr 2007 // 09:00:38

Welcome to the Most Intelligent Discussion Ever on the SNA Forum, CreepyS!

You obviously belong here. Whenever I check the board for "Latest Opinions" I am dismayed at all the flame wars I see out there. Here we have no flame wars. We do, however, ocassionally toss out hot embers on one another. That BBC article was great, by the way.

The demographic situation in Russia has been terrible for years. I am glad to hear it is improving somewhat.

The average male life expectancy for instance has been declining in Russia for some time. Alcoholism has played a big part in that.

I suspect that the higher oil export revenues has much to do with the improved Russian economy and demographics, something for which Putin can claim little credit. And Russia is getting quite a few immigrants from the near abroad! Ethnic Russians are fleeing the newly independent moslem republics of central asia for 'Mother Russia.'

Probably the quickest thing to do in any demographic crisis is to lower the mortality rate. This, after all, was the first stage in the European 'demographic transition' which began in the 1700s. Lower the mortality rate, and the population will shoot up.

Lowering the mortality rate is best accomplished by improving access to health care for all, and especially by reducing _infant mortality_. Severe pockets of poverty, if limited, can be addressed by income transfers. Nobody thinks they ever have enough money, of course, but _severe_ poverty is definitely associated with increased mortality at all age levels.

Here I think the Bulgarian health care system is quite definitely exacerbating the problem of mortality in Bulgaria. If you have a job, sure, in Bulgaria you have health insurance. But what if you are unemployed (9%, officially) or only marginally employed or employed off the books in the grey economcy? That's quite a number of people.

Well, no health care for you! (I assume that pensioners are in a similar situation, although I haven't checked the law.)

Now here's the perverse part: If you are unemployed in Bulgaria and want to get health care for your children once more, you have to pay for _every_ month you missed - months that you missed because you couldn't afford health care!!
This gets people off the health insurance rolls and it _keeps_ them off the rolls (Let's hope they don't pass on any avian flu).

It reminds me of the old 'poll tax' system in the American South. To vote you had to pay a special, separate _tax_ at the polling place. You paid, then you voted.

Okay. Now, say you got disgusted and didn't vote for ten years. Then you had to pay ten years back tax - before you could vote. Or twenty years. Or thirty years.

Now many people just didn't pay - or vote - and it kept a lot of poor white and poor Blacks from voting. That's the point (Ever wonder why the American South is so conservative?).

#17
Bloke from Alrewas off the A38 - 4 Apr 2007 // 00:50:26

Kol,

The only unfriendly countries on Earth that ever spring to mind are... you guessed it, European ones! Every European country is a non-entity and filled with hateful, sullen humanoids who have sod all going for them.

Quo Vadis, 'Dumbine' indeed? Where are you fecking off to, Al-minging thick-as-feck god-forsaken poofta?

Steven

#16
Kolega - 4 Apr 2007 // 00:24:59

Creepy:
"we can actually import some Asians, they will populate BG in no time;)"
Ouch! Asking for trouble!
Short legs, silly haircuts, thick glasses, not to mention suicidal driving.... gotta think about that one;)

"And a single mother of 3 actually gets enough SS so she doesn't need to work at all - a parasitic policy that I dont approve but many people practice it."

It actually is an ingenious policy, isn't it? You motivate the losers to breed, with the hope that their offsprings will be prone to make similar choices in life, whereby creating whole generations of little losers, who need you for their daily bread.... the Left Wing politician's "401K" bill in a nutshell;)

I am not worry about the Belgians: Soon enough they will look around and will see that the folks taking advantage of their generosity hail from unfriendly dark skin countries, and will start voting for the Right.
The Europeans are schizophrenically divided between their two favorite weaknesses - Socialism and Racism. (National Socialism;)
In the end of the day, if I had to put money on one, I am sticking with racism - nothing is stronger than that in Europe, not even their inner need for Socialism....

#15
CreepyS - 3 Apr 2007 // 18:11:59

Hi Kolega,

I really forgot the a bit too excessive care of the Bulgarians parents for their children even when the latter are well in their 30s;).

I agree that what I said about the mentality is more valid (if valid at all) now than before 1989.

I know for sure that in Belgium many people have 3 children while others dont have at all - guess why - because with 3 children you get in the "numerous family" taxation and with 2 you dont, so its less expensive to have 3 children than 2;)
And a single mother of 3 actually gets enough SS so she doesnt need to work at all - a parasitic policy that I dont approve but many people practice it.

In general subsidies are not a good thing as they dont solve economic problems, just drag the agony of unviable businesses. For this depopulation case I dont know, seems to me that some socialist policies could work, but I wont bet 1000$ that Im right and youre wrong - we can actually import some Asians, they will populate BG in no time;)

Do you know this one from Ron Reagan?

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it";)

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