OECD marks Poland’s 20 years of membership, sets out path to a more knowledge-based economy


25/11/2016 - Poland has achieved impressive progress in improving the living standards of its citizens over the past 20 years but needs to continue to move towards higher technology, boosting productivity and improving access to quality jobs and good pay, according to the OECD.


Speaking in Warsaw to mark the 20th anniversary of Poland’s membership of the Organisation, OECD Secretary-General said: “In the past 20 years Poland has grown faster than any other European economy, the share of the population with a tertiary education has more than doubled while more recently, income inequality has bucked a general trend seen in other countries and actually fallen. The OECD has accompanied and supported Poland every step of the way.”


Mr Gurría added: “Despite its remarkable achievements, Poland still has some way to go to catch up with the more advanced economies of the OECD. Productivity, measured as output per hour worked, was 39% below the OECD average in 2015. Adult skill levels are also below average. Many workers are in irregular jobs and earn low wages. Poland needs to move up the value ladder and become specialised in more knowledge-intensive, higher-value-added activities. These are big challenges but the OECD will continue to help Poland address them.”


In a report presented to ministers, the OECD says that Poland is expected to grow by around 3% annually between 2016 and 2018, supported by rising wages and increased social benefits.


It recommends a range of reforms to achieve a more innovative and productive economy. Workers require more opportunities to strengthen their skills.  Broad participation in effective adult training programmes – and particularly in remote rural areas - is crucial.


Business spending on research and development was only 0.44% of GDP in 2014, far below the OECD average.  To foster innovative entrepreneurship, the government should build a resource base for entrepreneurship in higher education, including platforms to share good practice and entrepreneurship networks. It should also provide more financial resources to support the commercialisation of products resulting from academic research. Shifting from direct support for research and development towards a mix of grants and market-based measures would also help unleash innovation in the business sector, the report says.


The OECD says the government’s planned tax administration reform aimed at improving compliance is welcome but adds that it is unclear how much extra revenue can be counted on. To help fund government spending plans, the report recommends raising additional revenue from property taxes and from relying less on reduced VAT rates and exemptions.


Among its other recommendations the report says Poland should:

  • Increase the statutory pension age as previously planned, and if early retirement is allowed, ensure that it is the same age for men and women
  • Ensure that climate change policies are clear and aligned with European and international Paris Agreement objectives
  • Clarify the strategy for reducing the environmental impact of the power sector, including coal use for electricity production.


Further information about the OECD’s work on Poland is available here or from the OECD’s Media Office; tel: +33 1 4524 9700. 


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