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Poland's history of war and political unrest has contributed to the depletion of any wealth it had accumulated over the past few decades. The data below from the United Nations' Human Development Report 2000 demonstrates how Poland's GDP per capita has compared to that of the United States, Romania, and Germany since 1975.


GDP per Capita (US$)

Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Poland N/A 2,932 2,819 2,900 3,877
United States 19,364 21,200 23,200 25,363 29,683
Germany N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Romania 1,201 1,643 1,872 1,576 1,310


Though Poland's GDP per capita remained stagnant during the 1980s, it increased by roughly 34% between 1990 and 1998. Regardless of this promising statistic, according to a 2008 Bloomberg Business week article, Pockets of Poverty in Poland roughly 25% of Polish children still grow up in poverty. [2] The Warsaw Business Journal reported the number of people living below the poverty line has declined from 13 million to 5 million, over the past 6 years (Eurostat). To be considered poor, the EU has set multiple standards to determine their poverty status. The EU considers an individual poor if you can’t afford to pay for accommodation, electricity, heating, unable to afford vacations, doesn’t own a washing machine, color TV or a phone. Currently, about 14% of Poland’s population are considered poor. Poland has a poverty issue, but not nearly as bad as Bulgaria or Romania, where poverty rates reach 30%. Over the past decade in Poland, poverty rate have decreased. According to Mr Wyżnikiewicz, the decline in poverty can be accredited to advancements in the job market as well as Poland's agreement to the EU in 2004. [3]

Inequality in Poland

In 2008 Poland had a Gini Coefficient of 34.2, as compared to the United States Gini Coefficient of 45. This implies that incomes are more evenly distributed in Poland than in the United States, which some would interpret as being a more favorable situation. However, due in part to the large difference in GDPs between Poland and the US it can also be implied that while incomes are more evenly distributed in Poland they are also relatively lower than in the US. [4]

Poland's steady economic progress matched by growth in social inequality

- The country has a gap in life expectancy of 15 years between Warsaw's richest and poorest districts.

- This sleight of hand is designed to cut the budget deficit (8% of GDP in 2010) and to keep national debt below the legal limit of 55% of GDP.

- Special arrangements apply to Poland's still huge rural population, who amount to 40% of the total but are said, for example, to cover only 10% of the cost of the health insurance fund.

- Childcare is scarce, with only 2% of Polish children under two in nurseries compared with 25% in the UK.

- With 2.16 doctors per 1,000 people against 2.61 in the UK, Poland faces strains. Community care is weak, so growing numbers of Poland's expanding elderly population may fall through the gaps [5]


  1. http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Europe/Poland-POVERTY-AND-WEALTH.html
  2. http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/may2008/gb2008056_273599.htm
  3. http://www.wbj.pl/article-57975-poverty-on-the-decline-in-poland.html
  4. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Income_inequality_in_the_United_States#Gini_index
  5. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/06/poland-economic-progress-social-inequality
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