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indicator value unit
Population 38.5 mil.
Visitors per year 67.4 mil.
Renewable energy 8.8 %

How’s Life?

Poland performs well in some measures of well-being in the Better Life Index. Poland ranks above the average in personal security, as well as education and skills, but below average in health status, income and wealth, social connections, civic engagement, subjective well-being, jobs and earnings, environmental quality, work-life balance and housing. These rankings are based on available selected data.

Money, while it cannot buy happiness, is an important means to achieving higher living standards. In Poland, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 18 906, much lower than the OECD average of USD 30 563 a year. There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn close to five times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, around 65% of people aged 15 to 64 in Poland have a paid job, below the OECD employment average of 67%. Some 71% of men are in paid work, compared with 58% of women. In Poland, almost 7% of employees work very long hours, less than the OECD average of 13%, with 10% of men working very long hours compared with just 2% of women.

Good education and skills is an important requisite for finding a job. In Poland, 91% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education, higher than the OECD average of 74%, and among the highest rates in the OECD. This is slightly truer for women than men, as 91% of men have successfully completed high-school compared to 92% of women. In terms of the quality of the educational system, the average student scored 504 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD's Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), higher than the OECD average of 486. On average in Poland, girls outperformed boys by 4 points, higher than the average OECD gap of 2 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Poland is 78 years, two years below the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 82 years, compared with 74 for men. The level of atmospheric PM2.5 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 22.1 micrograms per cubic meter, higher than the OECD average of 13.9 micrograms per cubic meter. Poland also performs below the OECD average in terms of water quality, as 80% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, broadly in line with the OECD average of 81%.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a strong sense of community and a moderate level of civic participation in Poland, where 89% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, in line with the OECD average. Voter turnout, a measure of citizens' participation in the political process, was 55% during recent elections; lower than the OECD average of 69%. Social and economic status can affect voting rates; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is an estimated 66% and for the bottom 20% it is an estimated 43%, broader than the OECD average gap of 13 percentage points, and points to shortcomings in the political mobilisation of the worst-off.

In general, Poles are less satisfied with their lives than the OECD average. When asked to rate their general satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Poles gave it a 6.0 grade on average, lower than the OECD average of 6.5.

For more information on estimates and years of reference, see FAQ section and BLI database.

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OECD Economic Surveys: Poland 2016

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