There are fewer and fewer cities with 100, 200 and 300 thousand inhabitants on the map of Poland. GUS data leave no illusions, most medium-sized cities are depopulating. By 2050, some of them may not even have half the population. Łukasz Wieczorek checked why this is happening and what are the consequences.
Kalisz begins to depopulate. Less than 100,000 people already live here. Ten years ago, 105,000 people lived in Kalisz, but the number was getting lower every year. 100,000 is a symbolic number. – On a global scale, it is really a city, it is called “city”, and all less than 100,000 people are “town”, says prof. dr hab. Daniela Szymańska from the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń.
– It is a symbolic, psychological degradation even in the consciousness, in the souls of the inhabitants. This is very symbolic for us, but also very practical – emphasizes the councilor of the Kalisz City Council, Dariusz Grodziński.
The number of inhabitants is declining in medium-sized cities
In rankings and statements, Kalisz is already in the basket with smaller cities. – A completely different qualification of our city, but thus the access to, in many cases, completely different financial instruments and the lack of access to those to which we had access as a city of over 100,000 inhabitants – adds Dariusz Grodziński.
After losing its status of a city of 100,000, the local government also loses the number of rulers. – For formal reasons, we lost one vice-president, and the number of councilors has decreased, but I think it is only good that the administration should be limited – says Mayor Kalisza Krystian Kinastowski.
– This is an overlap of two processes. One is the general decline in the fertility rate in Poland, which is manifested in the decline in the number of people in medium-sized and smaller cities – says Dr. Krzysztof Tymicki from the Institute of Statistics and Demography of the Warsaw School of Economics. – On the other hand, these are very strong internal migration processes, usually involving the movement of people from smaller centers to larger centers – he adds.
This is a forecast for the next decades – cities will continue to shrink. Most will lose several dozen percent of the population, and some will lose about a half. – Unfortunately, this may lead to further depopulation of cities, because remember that the smaller the city, the less attractive it will be for young people – emphasizes Dr. Krzysztof Tymicki.
Expected further decrease in the number of inhabitants
In 2050, almost 80,000 people are to live in Kalisz. – Here, from the position of local government, we have no influence on such phenomena as demography, such as the aging of the society, and we can do very little. All we can do is develop the city qualitatively, not quantitatively, says Krystian Kinastowski.
Less inhabitants means less money in the budget. Trams may run less frequently, prices for water, sewage and waste may change. – If the number of inhabitants drops by a quarter, the others will have to pay more, and it winds up such a situation like a snowball. Somewhere, we pay more for services, I do not want to settle there – believes Marek Wójcik from the Association of Polish Cities.
– The number of older people is increasing, so this is a challenge, because you need to take care of the elderly to adjust transport and so on, with changing city budgets – says prof. dr hab. Daniel Szymanska.
The double-digit decline in population in the coming decades will also be recorded in all large cities, except for Warsaw. Although here the population decline will not be so painful, as agglomerations will grow. – The example of Poznań is wonderful, because Poznań will soon have fewer inhabitants than the Poznań poviat, but they create a certain functional area that generates almost a million inhabitants – emphasizes Marek Wójcik. Depopulation in our country may be slowed down by the arrival of foreigners. However, no one is able to say how many of them will stay here permanently.