Law backing large families lacks vision

New legislation aimed at supporting families with more than three children, voted through Parliament earlier this week, is unlikely to solve any of the pressing economic problems faced by poor, large families. It is also doubtful whether this measure will have any effect on demographic trends in this country. This is because benefits and minor social privileges are inadequate in themselves. What is needed is a different outlook, a long-term plan for supporting families with extra responsibilities. The aim should be essentially to ease the task of working parents by offering them long periods of paid leave, along with more (and better quality) childcare services – even home help in situations with many infants. Moreover, if no measures are implemented to support new families from the beginning, there is little chance of them becoming stable social units. Government aid to families trying to make ends meet is not tantamount to state intervention in their way of life, nor does it seek to influence their stance on child-rearing. The state that stands by the family is not necessarily a chauvinist one, but an active one. The state plays an active role when it ensures equal opportunities for all. When it limits itself to lifting legal obstacles to equality, its role is passive. Of course, what makes Greek politicians indifferent to low birth rates is not their conviction that child-rearing is a personal matter but the fact that a demographic policy demands major changes in infrastructure, a wider societal reorganization, and dynamic and re-educated public servants. But evidently, the Greek state does not want to take on such responsibilities. It just produces a benefit and then washes its hands.