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    Tensions between cities and the rest of the country will grow

    “Without a clear vision of Poland’s development, social tensions between large cities and the rest of the country will increase”, says Professor Romuald Jończy. In his opinion, this decisions to migrate to large cities are the main cause of depopulation. They also affect the fertility rate.

    Professor Romuald Jończy, a migration and depopulation expert from the Wrocław University of Economics, believes that in Poland we unnecessarily limit the conversation about demographics to the decision to have children.

    “When leaving for the university, and in fact for good, to large cities, young people lose +a family base+ built in their hometowns. They earn more in large cities, but this surplus often fails to cover the costs of mortgage, living, including childcare – with which aging, lonely parents could help. In their hometowns there are often apartments and houses built by parents that remain vacant.”

    According to Jończy, internal migrations in Poland are so intense that in 20-30 years the peripheries are threatened by a dramatic population regression but also an economic and infrastructural one. In villages, small and medium-sized towns, older people from two demographic peaks of the 1950s and 1980s will remain trapped with low pensions, and communes will not have enough money to provide care for them. Their children, then 40-50 years old, who have left for the ‘big five’ (Warsaw, Gdańsk, Poznań, Kraków and Wrocław) or went abroad will not be able to help them, because their cost of living, attention focused on their own children and matters, and the distance will complicate it.

    According to the expert, politicians in Poland should look at the possible development models of large cities and provinces – and on this basis make an informed decision on the direction of changes.

    “We allowed people who are not necessarily predisposed to go to college en masse, without selection. And universities are paid +per head+ and not for what they teach and how they match graduates to the labour market. As a result, the quality of education decreases and we are delaying the entrance of young people to the labour market, where we have huge deficiencies in the area of employees with lower qualifications.”

    He added that another idea for supporting the development of small and medium-sized towns could be incentives for business and that central institutions do not have to be concentrated in metropolises.

    In addition he pointed to the lack of high qualification jobs, which is the main cause of leaving and not returning, especially affects young women.

    “The vast majority of women declare their willingness to leave their family towns, because, as they say, as educated people, +they have nothing to return to+. As a result, there is a majority of men on the provinces, and in large cities there are more women. This makes it increasingly difficult to look for potential partners and start a family.”

    According to research conducted among high school graduates in dozens of Polish towns, most of them, especially girls, definitely intend to leave their places of origin. They usually go to the five largest Polish cities, sometimes abroad. In some towns, only every tenth high school graduate intends to stay.

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