A demographic crisis awaits nearly all of Poland, except for these 2 major cities

By Grzegorz Adamczyk
4 Min Read

In an insightful analysis derived from the most recent projections by Statistics Poland (GUS), Professor Piotr Szukalski, a demographer from the University of Łódź, paints a bleak future for the demographics of Poland’s major cities by 2060. Warsaw and Kraków emerge as the sole beacons of growth amidst a general trend of population decline and aging across the nation’s urban landscapes.

While a few Polish cities, including Warsaw, Kraków, Wrocław, Gdańsk and Rzeszów, currently ride a wave of demographic stability, their resilience is not attributed to natural increase, which remains negative across the board. Instead, these demographic trends are due to favorable domestic and international migration patterns. However, this positive development is sharply narrowing, with only Warsaw and Kraków expected to maintain population growth in the coming decades.

Łódź, once Poland’s second-largest city, has seen a continuous population decrease over the past 30 years, dropping from 848,000 inhabitants shortly after the fall of communism in 1989 to 655,000 by mid-2023, thus falling to fourth place behind Wrocław. Poznań, too, has experienced a steady decline from 590,000 residents in 1990 to 540,000 by mid-2023.

In contrast, Warsaw has grown by approximately 200,000 inhabitants, from 1.66 million in 1990 to 1.86 million in 2023, while Kraków’s population has increased by 54,000, from 750,000 to 804,200 in the same period.

Looking towards the mid-21st century and beyond, Professor Szukalski’s analysis reveals significant population shifts. Warsaw is expected to peak at nearly 1.92 million residents around 2030, followed by a slight decrease to 1.88 million by 2060. Kraków is projected to continue growing until mid-century, reaching 835,500 inhabitants, before slightly declining to 827,600 by 2060.

Wrocław’s population is expected to decrease to 646,000 by mid-century and further to 623,000 by 2060. Łódź is anticipated to fall below 600,000 inhabitants within a decade, reaching 508,000 by mid-century and just over 484,000 by 2060. Poznań is expected to drop below 500,000 inhabitants in a decade, with projections showing 451,500 by 2050 and 416,800 by 2060.

These demographic changes, largely driven by a negative natural increase and varying migration patterns, reflect broader trends affecting urban populations across Poland. While all cities, excluding Kraków and Warsaw in the initial years, will see deaths outnumbering births, migration remains a critical factor in shaping the demographic futures of these urban centers.

Warsaw and Kraków, in particular, continue to attract thousands of migrants, both domestic and international, sustaining their population growth into the mid-century.

As the end of the current decade approaches, the population of individuals over 60 years old will surpass the combined count of children and teenagers in all cities, with Warsaw boasting the relatively youngest society and Łódź the oldest. This demographic shift underscores the challenges and changes facing Poland’s urban landscapes in the decades ahead.

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