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It is not excluded that over a dozen or so years the ongoing discussions about the 500+ child support benefit – certainly one of the key social programs of the last quarter-century – will become a material based on which students of social sciences will have the opportunity to analyse the problems resulting from thinking that prompts us to seek simple causeeffect relationships and try to explain the various social phenomena with one independent variable. Unfortunately, what we usually consider to be the result of introducing of some – supposedly – change-inducing stimulus into the social reality is in fact the result of a complex system of many different factors, which all influence, to different degrees, the above mentioned result, i.e. our dependent variable. The public opinion expects a simple message from the speaker – for example – that the 500+ child support benefit results in the reduction in the rate of poverty or in the decrease in the cost of social assistance, but after all, such regularities are conditional. Much depends on the situation on the labour market, the dynamics of wage growth, etc. Some sceptical opinions on the child support benefit were predicting its dramatic impact on the labour market It turned out, however, that the claim on the demotivating nature of the 500+ child support benefit was referring to simplified and – as it turned out – unreliable intuitions rooted in the old, constantly repeated rhetoric, according to which people’s entry into the labour market is primarily driven by the economic by the economic constraint. It is easy, after all, to claim that at least part of the workers whose families receive this benefit have not retired from the labour market, but “have been retired” – replaced by migrant workers willing to work for less money. We should therefore humbly admit that the temptation to appear in public discussions leads to a continuous reduction of the complexity of social realities, and also to ignoring the fact that while the families do think rationally, making their economic decisions, but this rationality is “bounded”, determined by the realities of place and time. Hence, it is worth remembering that whoever interprets, too hasty and / or based on undisclosed assumptions, the simple coexistence of phenomena as a simple sequence of causes and effects is wrong. The conclusion would therefore be that: even though – guided by rational thinking – we do not fully understand the complexity of functioning of the “Fam­ily 500+” program; it is however clear that its correlates are at least encouraging – regardless of what is said about its differentiated impact on the situation of Polish families.



  • Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński University, Warsaw, Poland
  • Institute Labour and Social Studies, Warsaw, Poland


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