Final Word from Thursday, August 9, 2007

Recent studies by the World Bank and Allianz show that Eastern Europe will lose 15% or more of its population by mid-century, resulting in what could be a grave economic crisis. The demographic problem of dwindling birth rates is compounded by low income levels in the region, which threaten the solvency of the pension and health systems. The CR is already using about 200,000 legal foreigners to help prop up its labor market and pension system and, by some estimates, needs twice this number to fill current job vacancies caused by a boom in government-subsidized foreign investment. Fast-tracking the work permits of Ukrainians or Bulgarians will help ease the labor shortage in the short term, but in the long term these green cards could in fact aggravate the crisis further east. A regional solution is urgently needed, unless the fallback plan is to let millions of Chinese workers into Europe. [Czech Republic labor unemployment investment incentives]


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