13.07.2020 change 13.07.2020

Born to run? Prof. warns of 'ageing communities' as young leave Polish cities

Credit: PAP/Andrzej Hrechorowicz 23.03.2012 Credit: PAP/Andrzej Hrechorowicz 23.03.2012

A demographer from the University of Łódz has warned that an increasing number of younger people are moving out of city spaces.

Professor Piotr Szukalski says that although migration from rural areas to cities is already well-documented, today there is an increasing number of small-to-medium-sized cities and large urban centres that are also being depopulated.

Consequently, with people moving from city centres to the quieter outskirts, or leaving places where work is only available in declining branches of the economy, the depopulation process worsens the demographic structure by ageing local communities. 

Such regions stop being attractive to entrepreneurs, it consequently becomes difficult to find people willing to work there, and the demand for manufactured goods and offered services is low.

He said: “A vicious circle is created: depopulation resulting from an unfavourable economic structure leads to a further infrastructure collapse, thus leading to further depopulation."

His research indicates that from 1998–2019 the population decreased by at least 5 percent in Opole, Łódz, Śląsk, Świętokrzyskie and Lublin. The largest depopulation was in Łódz (nearly 5,000 people less), Częstochowa (over 2,000 people) and Sosnowiec (nearly 2,000 people). According to the Szukalski, depopulation in these cities was determined by an outdated economic base, as well as suburbanisation, i.e. depopulation of the centre and development of the suburban area.

Szukalski drew attention to the growing depopulation trend not only in individual cities but also poviats. Depopulation affects even areas in those regions where there is no depopulation in general. In the Mazowieckie province, the most depopulated areas are Radom (a decrease by over 1,700 inhabitants), Płock (650 people less) and the Ostrów poviat (502 people less), although the entire region has a population increase (by 3.70 per mille in 2019).

According to Professor Szukalski, not only is depopulation of individual voivodships and poviats increasing, but no region of the country is resistant to depopulation. It can affect even those regions with the best demographic situation, such as Małopolska, Pomorze, Wielkopolska and Mazowsze. In his opinion, in response to this growing trend, local authorities should build an efficient infrastructure of public and social services.

Professor Piotr Szukalski's article on depopulation appeared in the journal Demografia i Gerontologia Społeczna - Biuletyn Informacyjny (Demography and Social Gerontology - Information Bulletin).

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