Geographia Polonica (1993) vol. 61

The quality of the natural environment and demographic processes in large towns in Poland

Janusz Witkowski

Geographia Polonica (1993) vol. 61, pp. 367-378 | Full text

The ongoing degradation of the natural environment, especially in someregions of Poland, gives rise to justifiable anxiety and encourages concern for thesignificance of this factor in the state of health, the rate and causes of mortality, thepathology of reproductiveness, and also the migratory behaviours of the population.The main research task was to discover the particularities of the course ofdemographic processes in towns with varying degrees of degradation of the naturalenvironment. This paper presents the demographic consequences of degradation ofnatural environment in Poland, based on the example of large towns, which includedthree basic processes: births, deaths and migration.Research results confirmed, that the quality of the natural environment is one of themortality factors in Poland. This is observed in the highest mortality rates in townslocated in the regions of ecological peril. The impact of the quality of the environmenton population mortality is most powerful among children and young people. However,it occurred that higher mortality co-occurs with ecological conditions which are notalways the worst. Therefore, the ongoing degeneration of the natural environment inPoland is not yet commonly reflected in mortality rates. Different and disadvantageousmortality patterns only occurred in strongly degenerated towns.The research carried out has also shown that the quality of the natural environment is notindifferent to reproduction. The endangered towns are distinguished by the lowest levelsof fertility as well as a worse weight-specific structure of newborns. In spite of the manysigns of the negative impact of the natural environment in Poland on the differentdimensions of fertility, it is not a factor of decisive significance. However, its role increasessystematically and it is most powerful in the most degenerated towns.Finally we can state that the thesis of the disadvantageous impact of the deterioration ofthe environment on the course of demographic processes has been confirmed. Theconcentration of negative demographic consequences in the most desolate regionssuggests that only exceeding a certain limit of environmental pollution distinctlymodifies demographic processes.

Keywords: quality of natural environment, demographic processes, Poland

Janusz Witkowski, Warsaw School of Economics, Warsaw, Poland