Inequalities within and among countries could be observed in every aspect of sustainable development, while each Sustainable Development Goal of 2030 Agenda aims to eliminate them. Unequal income distribution is one of the related issues: in many countries the wealthiest inhabitants accumulate a great share of income, while very limited resources are left for the least affluent people. Countries with the largest income inequalities include Honduras and Brazil, where over half of the total income is available to the wealthiest 20% of the population, while the poorest 20% receive only 3% of the total income. Countries with the lowest levels of income discrepancies are e.g. Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine, where the wealthiest 20% of the population have 35% of the total income at their disposal, and the poorest 20% receive 10% of the total income.
Similar countries with the largest and with the smallest income inequalities are indicated by the Gini coefficient, which measures income inequalities on a scale from 0 (when all inhabitants receive the same income) to 100 (where everyone except one person receive zero income). In Honduras and Brazil, the Gini coefficient exceeds 50, whereas in Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine it approximates 26. In many countries of the world, income discrepancies have decreased since 2005, but there are also instances where they have widened, e.g. in some European economies such as Luxembourg and Denmark. In the EU countries, the average value of the Gini coefficient is 31, and the values for individual member states range from 21-24 in Slovakia, Slovenia and Czechia to 35-40 in Romania, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria. In Poland, income distribution is less unequal than on average in the EU countries and more internally leveled than at the beginning of the decade. At present, Poland ranks 10th among the EU members with the lowest value of the Gini coefficient (29), while in 2010 it ranked 17th (with the value of the Gini coefficient at 31).
Gini coefficientDownload more data (.xls)
Distance between Poland and the richest EU countries
Wealth disparities in the EU could be observed both between and within member states. Poland belongs to the group of countries which are far behind the wealthiest economies of the region. GDP per capita equals 23,000 PPS in Poland, which is 72% of the EU average (it is a better ratio than at the beginning of the decade, when it amounted to 62%). Still, the country’s GDP per capita is higher than that of Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Romania and Latvia. Its internal wealth distribution is uneven. Mazowieckie Voivodship is exceptional among Polish voivodships because it is the only one where GDP per capita is higher than the EU average (by 13%). In other voivodships, the value of this indicator ranges from 77% of the EU average in Dolnośląskie Voivodship and 76% in Wielkopolskie, to only 47% in Lubelskie Voivodship and 48% in Warmińsko-Mazurskie.
GDP per capita at PPS (UE28=100)Download more data (.xls)
There is also a large discrepancy between Poland and EU wealthiest states in terms of adjusted gross disposable income of households per capita. In Poland, the value of this indicator reaches 16,000 of PPS and is lower than the EU average (23,000 of PPS). It is also half the value of adjusted gross disposable income of households per capita among the leaders of the region, e.g. Luxembourg and Germany, where this indicator approximates 30,000 of PPS. However, since the beginning of the decade, Poland has been slowly catching up with wealthier EU states. At present, adjusted gross disposable income of households per capita equals 71% of the EU average, whereas in 2010 it was 63%.
Income distribution within Poland is more level than on average in the EU, and also more internally uniform than it was in 2010. At present, income of the wealthiest 20% of the Polish population is over 4 times higher than income generated by the poorest 20% (in the EU on average is over 5 times higher), while in 2010, it was over 5 times higher. Poland is one of the EU leaders in decreasing income disproportions. It follows closely behind Slovakia, which has managed to eliminate this kind of inequalities to the largest extent of all EU countries. Moreover, since 2010, the poorest 40% of Poles have increased their participation in total disposable income from 21% to 22% (21% in the EU on average).
Adjusted gross disposable income of households per capita (in PPS)Download more data (.xls)
|PL||12 407||12 983||13 758||13 897||14 315||15 135||15 345||15 750||16 251|
|EU||19 653||19 987||20 351||20 393||20 864||21 806||21 812||22 154||22 828|
Income differences in Poland
Inequalities between inhabitants of urban and rural areas in aspects such as the likelihood of poverty or social exclusion are greater in Poland than on average in the EU. About 13% of inhabitants of Polish cities and 16% of town and suburb dwellers are threatened with poverty or social exclusion (these values are among the lowest in the EU, where the average likelihood of poverty and social exclusion exceeds 20%). However, slightly more inhabitants of Polish rural areas are at risk of poverty and social exclusion (24%) than on average for the EU rural areas (23%).
People at risk of poverty or social exclusion by degree of urbanisation (%)
Data for EU concern 2018.Download more data (.xls)
|towns and suburbs||26.8||.||15.5|
|towns and suburbs||20.4||19.9||.|