Poland Relatively Stable, Prosperous Before Tragedy

by Anna Manchin

Residents more optimistic about jobs, economy than others in the region

BRUSSELS -- Before Poland's president and scores of other officials died in a plane crash last week, the country in many ways was in a stronger position than ever. In contrast with other former socialist countries in the region, for example, two-thirds of Poles in January 2010 said they are satisfied with their standard of living and about one-third said it is getting better.


In 2009, the country's economic growth of 1.7% was the highest in Europe and it was the only country in the European Union to post annual growth. With stable financial institutions and a strong currency, Poland is already recovering from the global recession, which affected the country moderately. In February, the European Commission raised Poland's GDP growth forecast for 2010 to 2.6%, while the OECD's interim report predicted 3% growth.

But Poland's stability goes beyond objective economic measures. It can also be measured via citizens' subjective perceptions of their national economy, their personal living standards, and their institutions, many of which have improved considerably since 2005.

Much of this improvement is no doubt attributable to more favorable economic conditions. In January 2010, more than one in four (28%) Poles said their nation's economy was getting better -- by far the highest percentage expressing this view among former socialist countries in the region. A similar percentage (25%) said they are satisfied with efforts to increase the number of quality jobs, a considerable improvement over 8% measured in 2005.


Along with their satisfaction with efforts to create jobs, Poles' confidence in national institutions -- including the judicial system and courts, the military, and the national government -- have also improved steadily since 2005, reflecting the country's overall stability and growth. Confidence in the judicial system and courts, for example, has tripled in the past five years, from 16% in 2005 to 48% in 2010.


Bottom Line

Poles' relative economic stability and confidence in national institutions before the death of their president and scores of other senior officials last week will likely provide a strong foundation as the country recovers from this tragedy.

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Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with between 500 and 1,000 adults aged 15 in older, conducted in Poland, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania in 2009 and 2010. Surveys conducted in Poland in mid-December 2009 through mid-January 2010, in Bulgaria in January-March 2010, in Czech Republic in mid-December 2009 through late January 2010. Surveys in Hungary, Latvia, Romania, and Lithuania conducted throughout 2009. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the margin of error ranged from a low of ±3.3 percentage points in the Czech Republic to a high of ±5.3 percentage points in Lithuania. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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