The living standards of Poles in terms of
purchasing power per person in the mid-2010s were about
two-thirds of the average for EU residents as a whole.
All basic healthcare is free or low-cost. The retirement
age has been a political battle issue in recent years,
it has been raised and then lowered again.
During the communist era, everyone would be
guaranteed free health care, but because there were no
resources for medical equipment and staff, the hospitals
could not provide the care they would. Imported
medicines were completely out of reach for patients with
Countryaah Official Site:
Official statistics for population in Poland, including population growth, density, and estimation in next 50 years.
Public healthcare costs are rising rapidly and the
sector is constantly struggling with a lack of
resources. It now receives competition from private
practitioners and clinics. Long queues and poor public
health service make the private alternatives popular,
although only those who are better off can afford to use
them. Healthcare financing and organization are subject
to constant reform. Private insurance systems according
to the American example are becoming increasingly
The proportion of overweight children and adolescents
has increased rapidly and is estimated at around one
fifth. In an effort to curb the development, Parliament
banned serving junk food in the country's schools from
January 1, 2015. Despite campaigns of this type, the
population's consumption of sugar, red meat and even
alcohol has increased, according to statistics from the
GUS statistics in early 2019.
Pension systems are changing
In 2012, the retirement age was 60 years for women
and 65 years for men. That same year, however, the
Liberal PO government pushed through a gradual increase
in retirement age to 67 for all, for men to 2020 and for
women to 2040. However, this reform was torn down four
years later by the conservative PiS government. In the
fall of 2017, the retirement age was lowered to the same
levels as previously applied.
The pensions are paid directly from the Treasury and
are financed through high employer's fees. Several
occupational groups (miners, military, police and other
"uniformed officials" and others) are eligible to retire
earlier, lowering the actual average retirement age of
the Poles to 61 years for men and under 58 for women
(among uniformed officials even lower).
Since 1999, employees' pension funds have been
accumulated in individual accounts with the State
Insurance Agency ZUS, and then diverted to optional
private pension funds. In 2011, transfers from ZUS to
the individual accounts were lowered, which in the
future will increase the pension burden in the state
budget. The system of payments from the common state
budget works in parallel with the individualized system.
There is a social insurance system with, among other
things, sickness and parental allowance, child allowance
and a special contribution to single mothers. There are
also unemployment benefits. In 2016, the conservative
PiS government introduced the "Family 500 plus" program.
With the aim of increasing population growth, 500 zloty
would be paid monthly for all children in a family
except the firstborn, up to the age of 18. In families
with incomes of less than 800 zloty, the child allowance
would also be payable for the first child.
Strict abortion laws
In public life, women are under-represented. Many
women find themselves in a traditional role. Despite
this, more than every third small business is run by
women and there are relatively many women at middle
management level in banks and insurance companies. Only
a few women reach the highest positions in politics and
business. Women usually have lower wages than men, and
women are overrepresented in low-paid occupations in
health care, schooling and care.
Abortion legislation is strict. Abortion is allowed
in three exceptional cases: when the fetus is gravely
damaged or malformed, when the mother's life is in
danger and when the pregnancy has occurred through rape
or incest. Performing or participating in abortion can
give up to eight years in prison. However, the woman
cannot be prosecuted.
The law guarantees the rights of gay, bisexual and
transsexual as well as queer persons, but in reality
sexual minorities are not often exposed to harassment,
threats and violence. There is no partnership law.
Same-sex marriages are not legal and there are no laws
on hate crimes involving sexual orientation. In a speech
before the 2019 presidential election, President Duda
compared what he called "LGBT ideology" with communism.
FACTS - SOCIAL CONDITIONS
4 per 1000 births (2018)
Proportion of population with access to clean
97.9 percent (2015)
Proportion of the population having access to
98.8 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on health care as a
percentage of GDP
6.3 percent (2015)
Public expenditure on health care per person
US $ 809 (2016)
Proportion of women in parliament
28 percent (2018)
Journalists are kicked for inaccuracies
The Rzeczpospolita newspaper dismisses its
editor-in-chief and a journalist after an article
incorrectly claiming that explosives were found in the
wreckage after the Polish air crash in Smolensk in
Russia in 2010.
Action against the economic crisis
The government is proposing a series of measures to
combat the economic crisis, which is now beginning to be
felt in Poland as well. Among other things, large state
investments are made with funds from the sale of state
property in industry.
Patriotic protests against the government
Around 50,000 people are demonstrating in Warsaw
against the government under the motto "Awake Poland".
Opposition leader Jarosław Kaczyński uses harsh
rhetoric, appeals to Polish patriotism and talks about
"the cup of evil overflowing".
The retirement age is being raised
Parliament approves a controversial government
proposal raising the retirement age to 67 for most
Poles. The union has pushed hard and is holding up
protests outside Parliament. According to the
government, raising the retirement age provides more
pension and reduces state spending. So far, the
retirement age has been 60 years for women and 65 years
for men. The military and some other occupational groups
have had even more favorable pension terms. Now the
pension will be gradually increased to 67 years for men
in 2020 and for women in 2040.
Those responsible for martial law are convicted
Former Interior Minister Czesław Kiszczak is
sentenced to two years imprisonment for his
responsibility when Poland introduced martial law in
1981 (see Modern History). Former Communist Party leader
Stanisław Kania is acquitted. General Wojciech
Jaruzelski is also prosecuted, but the trial against him
has been postponed for health reasons.