Report 2020

Poland on the way to SDGs
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Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere

Global poverty

The extent of extreme poverty in the world has decreased by half since 2005, but poverty still remains one of the greatest social and economic problems. Currently around 8% of the global population, i.e. 633 million people, live below the international poverty line, on no more than USD 1.9 a day. Over 50% of the poorest are inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa. The number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen in almost all regions of the world, but not to the same extent. Asian countries, where the share of inhabitants living in extreme poverty fell by over two thirds in 10 years, i.e. to 6% in 2015, can boast the largest progress in the eradication of poverty. Another region where the poverty rate has fallen significantly is sub-Saharan Africa. However, 44% of its population still live below the international poverty line.

Groups especially threatened with poverty are the unemployed, large families and the disabled. Employment is a factor that generally decreases poverty rates, but it is not uncommon for many employed people to live on USD 1.9 a day or less. The global percentage of the employed who have to survive on such a daily amount has decreased by over a half compared to 2005, to 7%, but it is still comparatively high. This problem often afflicts young working people (aged 15-24), almost 13% of whom live in extreme poverty.

Proportion of population below the international poverty line (%)

Data for the world concern 2019.

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2005 2015 2019
WORLD 21 10 8
AFRICA 43 36 .
Northern Africa 7 3 .
Sub-Saharan Africa 52 44 .
Latin America and the Caribbean 10 4 .
Northern America 1 1 .
ASIA 23 6 .
Southern Asia 32 . .
South-Eastern Asia 19 6 .
Central Asia 31 8 .
Eastern Asia 16 1 .
Western Asia 3 6 .
EUROPE 1 1 .
Southern Europe 1 1 .
Northern Europe 1 0 .
Eastern Europe 1 1 .
Western Europe 0 0 .
OCEANIA 13 8 .

Poverty in Poland

In Poland, like in all Europe, extreme poverty is a relatively rare phenomenon, but many households do not obtain income high enough to ensure their smooth and comfortable functioning. Nevertheless, the situation in Poland has improved since the beginning of the decade, whereas in the EU it has slightly deteriorated. The percentage of the inhabitants of Poland threatened with poverty (having acknowledged social transfers in their income) has decreased since 2010 from nearly 18% to 15%. Now it is below the EU average (which has increased to around 17%), whereas just a few years ago it was higher than this average. Inhabitants of rural areas are twice as much threatened with poverty (around 21% of against 24% in 2010) than inhabitants of large cities (10% against 11%).

At-risk-of-poverty rate after social transfers (%)

Data for the EU concern 2018.

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2010 2018 2019
PL Female 17.7 15.0 15.8
Male 17.4 14.6 15.0
Female 17.2 17.8 .
Male 15.8 16.3 .

The situation of children in Poland (the group usually most afflicted by poverty) has improved considerably, which resulted partly from the introduction of family benefit programmes since 2016. The percentage of children threatened with poverty has fallen significantly compared to 2010 (to 13%), and is much lower than the EU average (20%). Unlike in the EU, the situation of people aged 25-29 has improved since the beginning of the decade, as 2% of them are presently threatened with poverty (against 5% in 2010). However, likewise in the EU, the situation of the elderly (people aged over 60) has clearly deteriorated in Poland. Almost 18% of them are now threatened with poverty, compared to 14% in 2010, which makes it the group most threatened with poverty of all the age groups in Poland.

At-risk-of-poverty rate among children (%)

Data for the EU concern 2018.

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2010 2018 2019
PL before social transfers 30.7 31.6 30.3
after social transfers 22.5 13.0 13.4
before social transfers 35.3 33.9 .
after social transfers 21.0 20.2 .

Employment and poverty

In Poland, as in other countries, the group least affected by poverty are the employed. Almost 10% of those employed in Poland are currently threatened with poverty, which shows a decrease from 2010, when it was 12%. The scale of this phenomenon in Poland is presently similar to the EU average, whereas at the beginning of the decade it exceeded that average. An important factor which prevents poverty is the stability of employment. People working full-time are significantly less likely to be threatened with poverty (it concerns 9% of them) than those working part-time (16%). The risk of poverty is 50% lower in the case of people employed on permanent work contracts (4%) than those employed on temporary contracts (9%). In Poland, the situation of those with permanent and temporary jobs has improved (in 2010, the problem of poverty affected 6% and 12% of such groups of workers, respectively), while in the EU the situation of working people has deteriorated, particularly temporary workers who are now at risk of poverty almost twice as often as in Poland.

In-work at-risk-of-poverty rate (aged 18-64) (%)

Data for the EU concern 2018.

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2010 2018 2019
PL with a permanent job 6.0 3.6 4.3
with a temporary job 11.8 9.7 9.3
with a permanent job 5.2 6.0 .
with a temporary job 13.3 16.2 .

The extent of poverty is also limited by a fall in the number of people living in households with very low work intensity (whose members use at most 20% of their labour potential). At present, 5% of the inhabitants of Poland below the age of 60 live in such households, while at the beginning of the decade it was over 7%. The scale of this phenomenon in Poland is smaller than in the EU, where on average around 9% of the population live in households with very low work intensity.

People living in households with very low work intensity (%)

Data for the EU concern 2018.

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2010 2018 2019
PL Female 8.0 5.9 4.9
Male 6.7 5.3 4.6
Female 11.0 9.2 .
Male 9.6 8.3 .

Financial situation of households

The financial condition of Polish households is presently significantly better than in 2010. At that time, almost 15% of households experienced severe material deprivation, i.e. had difficulty in satisfying at least 4 out of 9 needs regarded as basic in European circumstances. Now, less than 4% of them face this problem, which, unlike at the beginning of the decade, is less than the EU average (around 6%). Like a few years ago, due to financial reasons some households cannot afford a one-week annual holiday and to cover unexpected expenses. Such difficulties are reported by 30% of Polish households, which is significantly less than in 2010, when over half of them were not able to afford such expenses.

Severely materially deprived people (%)

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2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
PL 14.2 13.0 13.5 11.9 10.4 8.1 6.7 5.9 4.7 3.6
EU 8.4 8.8 9.9 9.6 8.9 8.1 7.5 6.6 5.9 .

Housing conditions of Poles

Housing conditions and the technical state of dwellings have improved in Poland since the beginning of the decade, but they are still worse than the EU average. About 38% of Poland’s population live in dwellings of insufficient size (in 2010, ca. 48% faced problem), which places Poland among countries with the most overcrowded housing. Around 8% of people living in Poland experience serious housing deprivation, which means that they live in dwellings which are overcrowded, without a bathroom, with a leaking roof or considered too dark. This is a lower percentage than in 2010, when such conditions affected 13% of people in Poland, but still twice as high as the EU average. About 11% of the Polish population live in unfavourable conditions, e.g. with a leaking roof, damp walls or foundation, or rot in a house, whereas at the beginning of the decade it was 6%.

Overcrowding rate (%)

Data for the EU concern 2018.

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2010 2018 2019
PL 47.5 39.2 37.6
EU 17.7 15.5 .

Severe housing deprivation rate (%)

Data for the EU concern 2018.

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2010 2018 2019
PL less than 18 years 17.3 10.5 10.1
18-64 years 13.0 8.7 8.1
65 years or over 9.7 6.1 5.3
less than 18 years 8.3 6.1 .
18-64 years 5.8 4.1 .
65 years or over 2.5 1.5 .

Report 2020
Poland on the way to SDGs
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