As deaths are rising at rates not seen since World War II, births are declining.
Statistics for 2020 show that deaths have risen in Poland to a level not seen since World War II and that births have fallen sharply, trends attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic and described by some as a population crisis.
The data reported by the Dziennik Gazeta Prawna daily on Tuesday came from a state register that includes weekly births and deaths.
Poland, a nation of over 38 million people, recorded 357,400 births last year, the lowest number since 2005, and some 486,200 deaths from various causes, the highest number recorded since the war . Aggregate data showed a population loss of around 129,000 people, down from around 36,400 the previous year.
The Polish population has slowly declined over the past 20 years, mainly due to the emigration of young people in search of better opportunities.
The low birth rate surprised observers, as some experts predicted that the lockdown measures the Polish government has imposed since mid-March would result in a baby boom, the newspaper said. Communist-era martial law restrictions in Poland in the early 1980s produced such an increase in births.
Demographics expert Piotr Szukalski told Dziennik Gazeta Prawna that he believes deep concerns about the spread of the coronavirus are to blame.
Family and Social Policy Minister Marlena Malag attributed the high death rate to the pandemic and said it would take a long time for the current government family benefits program to increase the birth rate. to reverse the negative trend.
Commenting on data released by the state agency Statistics Poland in December for 11 months of 2020, economist Rafal Mundry said the number of deaths was the highest since World War II and the number of births lowest in 15 years.
“We have a huge demographic crisis,” Mundry said on Twitter.
In 2019, around 30,000 people died in Poland each month on average. In November, when COVID-19 cases increased, the country recorded nearly 60,400 deaths.
The high death rate continued into the first three weeks of 2021, with nearly 29,000 deaths, compared with some 24,800 deaths in the first three weeks of 2020, before the pandemic.