Poland - Recent Social Developments
Five recent social developments in Poland are the decreasing population, professional life losing importance for Polish people, the growing value of natural beauty, as well as major issues with LGBT rights and the educational system.
THE SHRINKING POPULATION
- According to the Polish Statistical Office, just this year, the Polish population decreased by 22,000.
- The number is especially surprising, considering that there was a slight rise in population in 2018.
- The population figures went down in 12 out of 16 voivodeships, with the most significant drop of 14,000 observed in Slaskie Voivodeship.
- One of the few regions were the population increased is Mazowieckie Voivodeship, where Warsaw, the capital, is located. It points toward the conclusion that people are drawn to the capital in search of better employment opportunities.
- Additionally, the Polish Statistical Office observed declines in the number of marriages and births. They expect those figures to drop further due to the shrinking number of women in reproductive age, as well as many young people moving abroad.
- It is expected that at the current pace, by 2050, the country's population will go down from 38.2 million to 30 million.
PERSONAL AND FAMILY LIFE MORE IMPORTANT THAN WORK
- As per the 2018 research by the Public Opinion Research Center (CBOS), 64% of Poles are mostly focused on personal and family matters.
- Out of those, 38% primarily want a long and calm life, 7% — family and personal happiness, 6% — to start a family, 6% — to help children or grandchildren, 5% — an honorable life, 5% — to raise their children, 3% — to live through retirement.
- Other answers, shared by 1-2% of respondents, include good rest and free time, having kids, stability, survival, self-growth and spiritual aspirations, independence, passions and hobbies, and physical activity.
- Also, in the 2019 study by the same entity, 80% of Poles named family as their top priority, followed by health (55%), peace (48%), friends (45%), other people's respect (42%) and work (36%).
- It is worth noting that women are more likely than men to mention family as their primary value. It is also more common among highly educated people, housewives, as well as middle- and top-level managers. Those who are not as likely to value it are high net worth individuals, inhabitants of big cities, and unemployed.
- Between 2008 and 2018, while the family remains to be the most valued, Poles started to care less about their work and professional life, and more about friendship.
POLES VALUING NATURAL BEAUTY
- According to the 2019 research by Kantar Poland, 85% of Poles think that an attractive look is important.
- Also, they define good look by positive energy (69%), nice smile (55%), healthy skin (51%), natural beauty (50%), slim figure (46%), fitting haircut (39%), and well-groomed hands (33%).
- Compared to men, women care more about good energy, nice smile, healthy skin, and fitting haircuts.
- While the most valued attributes are connected with natural looks, 14% use aesthetic medicine, 25% would like to, and further 25% aren't opposed to the idea.
- Additionally, two-thirds of Polish people would like to lose weight.
- The analysis of multiple articles on lifestyle media sites shows that emphasizing the value of natural look is a recent social development. (See here, here, here and here.)
LGBT RIGHTS AS A MAJOR SOCIAL ISSUE
- Before the most recent election, the conservative party Law and Justice (PiS) used anti-LGBT messaging to create a new enemy for its campaign and stimulate their potential voters.
- This April, the leader of PiS, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, claimed that LGBT movements are threatening Polish identity. As a result, about 30 villages and towns passed resolutions that declared them "free of LGBT ideology."
- Also, the pride event in one of the Polish cities was attacked by nationalists, which resulted in many injured participants.
- However, there was a strong response from the LGBT community and its supporters, both in social media and in real life, with the increased use of LGBT-related hashtags, huge participation in pride events, and many public coming outs.
- According to the poll by IPSOS, 24% of Polish people think that the LGBT community is the biggest threat to Poland. It's second only to climate change, which leads with 38%.
SOCIAL ISSUES AROUND THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM
- In 2017, PiS conducted the education reform, bringing back the two-tier educational system and taking away vocational or upper secondary school.
- As a result of the move, which was not welcomed by teachers and parents, 6,600 educators lost their jobs.
- Other teachers lost housing opportunities and salary bonuses. It has also become significantly harder for them to be promoted to the next level and increase their salaries.
- After that, teacher unions and the government got into negotiations about pay increases, with teachers demanding $260 more.
- When the government refused, there was a wave of teacher strikes throughout Poland. Those events affected the students, taking away their school-time and putting a question mark over their chances to take exams and apply to universities.
- Furthermore, the reform caused administrative chaos in educational institutions, while also making them overcrowded.
- These events, according to Sustainable Governance Indicators Network, are one of the main reasons why Poland scores poorly in social policies.
While there was some information available about recent social developments in Poland in English-language sources, it was not sufficient. It was especially difficult to find insights on aspects like demographics, psychographics, and beauty ideals. We scoured through European and American media sites that included information on Polish social climate, as well as through reports by European Union institutions, and Polish sites and organizations that also publish their articles in English. While we found a lot of relevant information, which was summarized in our findings above, we still had to support our findings with articles and reports in Polish. Our accuracy can be verified using Google Translate.