According to the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) Institute, Poland ranks third in the ranking of 49 countries that have reduced their level of poverty over the last 50 years.
The situation of poor people in Poland has significantly improved, mainly in the villages and small towns. The LIS analysts appreciated Poland’s efforts to reduce poverty especially among children.
The research showed that Poland, alongside Hungary and Ireland, are on the podium of those countries that dealt with the problem most effectively, although, in Poland’s case, the oldest analysed year was 1995. Since then, the level of poverty in Poland has fallen by 29 percent, of which a significant part is a consequence of social aid.
However, the state aid programmes in Greece, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, Japan, Guatemala, South Korea and Switzerland seem to had no major effects. The first of these countries is deeply indebted as a result of huge social spending.
LIS economists indicated that Poland was in a fairly small group of countries, where the increase of social spending by one percent reduced the level of poverty by more than one percent. Apart from Poland, this group included South Africa, the UK, Ireland and the Czech Republic.
Poland is at the forefront of the countries with a high share of social transfers in the budget - they constitute over 28 percent of spending, the same as Sweden. France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Serbia and Slovenia spend a greater percentage of on this.
In Poland, as well as in the entire EU, if the average income of a parent in a family does not exceed PLN 1,300 (EUR 303), one is deemed to be poor.
According to Statistics Poland (GUS) data from 2017 (the most recent available), taking into account salaries and pensions alone, poverty in Poland amounts to 24 percent. However, when also considering social transfers, Poland’s poverty level drops to 15 percent.
The payment of various benefits, including the state’s flagship project Family 500 Plus, significantly contribute to the fact, that poor people are steadily becoming less poor.
It is mainly the inhabitants of villages and small towns who benefit from the social aid programmes, while in larger cities, the observed changes were not as considerable. The poverty rate in rural areas fell from 24.7 percent in 2014, to 21.5 percent in 2017. In the smallest cities (up to 20,000 residents), it dropped from 16 percent to 12.7 percent, which is a result even higher than in the countryside.
The full report can be found here.