OECD Urban Policy Reviews: Poland


Key Facts | Key Policy issues | Recommendations

Table of contents | How to obtain this book

OECD Territorial Reviews: Venice, Italy 2010 | OECD Free preview | Powered by Keepeek Digital Asset Management Solution

 ISBN Number:

 Publication Date:

 Pages 190


The National Urban Policy Review of Poland is the first of its kind in a series designed to shed light on the role of central government in urban policy development. This set of reviews, launched by the Urban Development Programme of the OECD, explores how national urban policies and sectoral policies can have a profound impact on urban areas. In the case of Poland, a national strategy for urban areas is needed to improve the coherence among national policies and urban objectives. An integrated cross-sectoral strategy could also help the national government identify policies that undermine urban policy objectives and complementary policy packages that would enhance effectiveness.


Key facts

  • Since EU-accession in 2004, Poland has become its fastest growing economy and 80% of it took place in its Urban Labour Market Areas (ULMAs), where half of firms and two-thirds of employment concentrate.
  • Disparities within urban areas are wider than any other expression of inequality (rural-urban, Warsaw-rest of the country, and East-West). Average inequality for the 41 ULMAs is larger than the same indicator across regions in Poland. Poverty is most severe in urban areas. Larger urban areas have median incomes almost 50% below the poverty line.
  • Urban areas are experiencing suburbanisation and sprawl. Population growth in Poland is mainly taking place in suburban areas within ULMAs.

Population density at county level
Inhabitants per square kilometre in 2008


  • In the past 60 years Poland’s rapidly ageing population is resulting in it being one of the most aged countries in the OECD. The elderly will tend to concentrate in urban areas where services –including medical- are much more developed.
  • Potential growth could be compromised by inadequate transport infrastructure connecting cities and neighbourhoods within cities, and by a sizable housing deficit (estimated between 1.5 and 1.8 million units), which is limiting migration to urban areas and constraining the labour market, as well as making housing prices relative to income the 7th most expensive in the OECD at an average 22% of disposable income.


Economic performance of Polish ULMAs



Key policy issues

  • Despite Poland having developed a number of policy documents addressing urban development, the country has yet to articulate a coherent and integrated strategy for a national urban policy.
  • Poland is facing a planning paradox: elaborate strategies, plans and visions for spatial development on paper with limited if any, impact on the ground.
  • Three main challenges prevent a comprehensive approach to urban development at the national, regional and local levels. First, urban policy has not been assigned a specific set of priorities on the national level, in contrast to regional and rural policy.  Second, no enforceable mechanisms exist to harmonise regional and local economic development or spatial development plans. Third, municipal economic development, spatial development and sectoral plans are not integrated, resulting in a fragmented approach to local development.


  • A national urban strategy is needed to set measurable objectives to achieve a vision for urban development across Poland and to improve coherence between national policies affecting urban development to pursue such a vision more effectively. An integrated cross-sectoral strategy can also help the national government identify policies that undermine urban policy objectives and complementary policy packages that would enhance effectiveness. It should also help differentiate policies by city according to size, specific needs, strengths and assets.
  • National-level intervention is needed to assist municipal governments increase the supply of quality affordable housing. A top priority should be setting national-level affordable housing targets across municipalities that can be binding or supported by incentives.
  • A long term strategy requires reforms to enhance inter-municipal planning and service delivery within functional urban areas, ensure integrated planning across sectors, strengthen inter-ministerial co-operation, co-ordination and coherence at central level, as well as revise the role of intermediate levels of government in optimising urban policy outcomes. The region (voivodship) is potentially the key level of government to integrate all spatial planning (EU, national, regional and local) for more coherent urban outcomes.

Table of contents


Assessment and Recommendations

Chapter 1. Urban System and Challenges in Poland
This chapter looks at the trends in urbanisation, shows the reader what the urban system looks like and raises the issues and main challenges of urban areas in Poland. The chapter looks at different definitions of urban areas and explores those applied in Poland.

Chapter 2. National Policies for Urban Development in Poland

This chapter presents the need for a national urban policy framework in Poland and addresses the main policy challenges urban areas are facing.  In particular, the chapter highlights urban policies that can enhance competitiveness while addressing inequality, increase the availability of affordable housing, and improve land-use planning.

Chapter 3. Adapting Governance for a National Urban Policy Agenda

This chapter discusses governance strategies for adopting a national urban policy agenda focussing on ways of enhancing co ordination across governments and recommendations are made on how to strengthen inter-municipal co ordination within urban functional areas.

Annex A. Regions Typology

Annex B. Cluster analysis


How to obtain this book



Readers can access the full version of OECD Urban Policy Reviews: Poland by choosing from the following options:


Follow us on :