Poland recorded 130,000 more deaths in the past 12 months than in the corresponding period a year earlier, as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic swept the country, exacerbating the national demographics crisis, the statistical office GUS reported on September 24.
The total number of deaths in September 2020-August 2021 came in at 539,000, GUS said in a report. Meanwhile, the number of births fell to just over 338,000 in August 2020-July 2021, the statistical office also said, noting that the births data is slightly delayed.
Accounting for Poland’s positive migration rate – meaning that more people arrived in Poland than left it – the pandemic greatly contributed to the overall reduction of the population by 197,000, GUS notes.
Whatever the impact of the expected fourth wave of the pandemic, once it subsides, Poland is still going to grapple with the falling number of births and the increasing number of deaths for years to come.
There only are just under 9mn women of child-bearing age in Poland, down by 500,000 compared to a decade ago and by one million versus 20 years ago. Polish women also give birth statistically to just 1.41 children, way below the 2.1 considered necessary to ensure so-called generational succession.
With a rapidly ageing society, that is a recipe for a steady decline in population, experts have long warned.
The government’s flagship welfare programme, the universal payout of PLN500 (€109) monthly per every child under 18, which was introduced as a pro-birth scheme, has not resulted in any sustained increase in the number of births.
Women’s organizations have also criticised the government for hindering access to contraception and sexual education in school, while restricting abortion laws at the same time. The only result of these restrictions is that Polish women simply choose not to have children at all, they warn.
The United Nations’ projection is for Poland’s population to decline from some 38mn today to just over 35mn in 2050. The government’s assumed projections of an increased number of births per woman to 1.8 or even 2.1 by 2040 also show a decline, although less steep.