Academic journal article Demographic Research

Stochastic Forecast of the Population of Poland, 2005 - 2050

Academic journal article Demographic Research

Stochastic Forecast of the Population of Poland, 2005 - 2050

Article excerpt


Forecasting the population of Poland is very challenging. Firstly, the country has been undergoing rapid demographic changes. In the 1990s, they were influenced by the political, economic, and social consequences of the collapse of the communist regime. Since 2004 they have been shaped by Poland's entry into the European Union. Secondly, the availability of statistics for Poland on past trends is strongly limited. The resulting high uncertainty of future trends should be dealt with systematically, which is an essential part of the stochastic forecast presented in this paper. The forecast results show that with the probability of 81.8% the Polish population will decline during the next decades and Poland will face significant ageing as indicated by a rising old-age dependency-ratio. There is a probability of 50% that in 2050 the population will number between 25.7 and 36.5 million compared to 38.2 in 2004 and that there will be at least 64 persons aged 65+ per 100 persons aged 19-64.

1. Introduction

Ever since the beginning of the 1990s, Poland has been experiencing rapid changes in its demographic patterns. In terms of family formation, these are the postponement or even abandonment of marriage and childbearing, the spread of alternative living arrangements and rising numbers of marriages ending in divorce. As a consequence, the Period Total Female First-marriage Rate dropped from 0.90 in 1989 to 0.57 in 2004 and the Period Total Fertility Rate fell from 2.03 to 1.23. Mortality patterns in Poland have also undergone a significant change. Life expectancy has been rising since 1992 following two decades of very modest improvement and a temporary increase in mortality at the beginning of the 1990s. It increased by 4 years for women and nearly 4.5 years for men over the 1992-2004 period. The major improvement has been observed for infants. In 2004, the infant mortality rate was less than half of that in 1989. As regards international migration, the limited mobility of the past arising from political restrictions has come to an end and today migration from and to Poland is contributing significantly to the volume of international migratory flows.

The process of demographic change in Poland has surely not ended yet. Although demographers have some expectations about the direction of future population developments in this country, a lot still remains uncertain. The uncertainty is growing owing to ongoing economic transformation in Poland, its entry into the EU, and the consequences of opening the national economy to highly competitive global markets. The ageing of Poland's population is an additional challenge. This process has already started and cannot be avoided. The higher percentage of the elderly will result in greater burdens on the working-age population in terms of financial support and care. Consequently, population ageing will affect the state of the country's public finances and its social security system. The direction of future demographic developments in Poland may depend significantly on whether or not the system undergoes the necessary reforms and the extent to which the state adjusts to the ongoing changes. The reforms need to be carefully planned, entailing detailed calculations of their costs and benefits. Qualitative experts' descriptions of the expected future do not suffice. Instead, a reliable population forecast is needed.

Since the beginning of the 1990s, several forecasts of the Polish population have been prepared. The most recent are a forecast of the Central Statistical Office (hereafter referred to as the CSO) for the years 2003-2030 (Boleslawski 2004), of the United Nations for the years 2005-2050 (UN 2004), and of Eurostat for the years 2005-2050 (EUROPOP2004). Each of them has three scenarios, of which one is perceived to be the most likely and the other two to show the magnitude of divergence from the most likely path if some of the fertility, mortality, or international migration parameters are changed. …

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