In 2006, the birth rate in Poland dropped to 1.24 children per woman, reports Gazeta Wyborcza. This level is causing alarm, as it is the lowest birth rate in the EU and below the necessary level to replace the population (2.1-2.15 children per woman). This translates as an estimated 9.94 births/1,000 to 9.94 deaths/1,000 in 2007. As a result, the population of Poland is shrinking faster than any other country of the EU.
On the other hand, the Polish population is living longer. Babies born in the 1990?s are expected to live an average of 75.3 (women) or 66.5 (men) years, while those born in 2005 are expected to live to the ages of 79.4 (women) and 70.8 (men).
According to UN projections, by 2050, four out of 10 Polish citizens will be over 60 years old. This will make Poland one of the most elderly nations in the world.
There are several reasons for this trend. The members of the post-war baby-boom generation will retire during the next 25 years. Improved medical technology and health awareness make it possible for people to live longer. Women are starting families at later ages because of more equal access to the job market. Additionally, as former Minister of Labor Michal Boni noted, many young Poles have emigrated to other nations.
It is a demographic time bomb set to explode not only in Poland, but throughout the EU over the next few decades.
According to estimates, the population of Poland will drop 2.5 million by 2030, bringing it to 35.5 million. By 2050, the number will further decline, leaving only 30 million Poles in the whole of Europe
Changes in the age structure of the population also threaten to be detrimental. In 2050, only about 15 million Poles will be of working age, while almost 11 million will be past the age of retirement.
According to the European Commission, governmental actions should be taken to improve this situation. Successful strategies are considered to include: the promotion of demographic renewal and the integration of migrants; more jobs, increased productivity and higher retirement ages; and sustainable public finance programs. Experts say that the Polish government should presently prepare a long-term socio-economic program.
According to Gazeta Wyborcza, from 2025-2050, several hundred-billion Polish zloty will be needed for pensions alone.