Geographia Polonica (1986) vol. 52

Trends in changes of living standards in Poland, 1960-1981. An attempt at defining regional disparities

Maria Ciechocińska

Geographia Polonica (1986) vol. 52, pp. 249-266 | Full text

Under the term of living standards we understand a vast complex of problems,such as determinants of living conditions, favoured models of consumption, style orway of life, to begin with. Living standards have their global dimension on thescale of a continent, given civilization or state and, at the same time, an individualand physical dimension related to a man, a family, a household, a social-professionalgroup, regional or local community", as well as to social strata and classes. Theyare a resultant of the effects of many different factors and undergo constant changes.This variability comes as a result of historical processes, economic-political situationof the country, and curriculum vitae of individuals (Ciechocińska 1981, 1983).

In classical anthropological approaches the stress is laid on the influence ofgeographical environment upon living standards and dependencies are pointed outbetween properties of physical and socio-economic spaces. Disregarding the difficultieswhen it comes to operationalization, there are many adherents of integrated approachwhich combine working, recreation and housing conditions. It should be stressed,however, that such approaches incur demographic-social limitations as not all membersof the population are — for instance —professionally active.

Living standards are a product of definite social relations formed under a givenpolitical-economic system which, in general, determines the existence of permissibledisparities, as well as the terms of access to socially valued goods. In the presentstudy the problems of living standards have been confined exclusively to regionaldisparities resulting from differences in the levels of socio-economic development.The existing disparities have been produced by a centuries long historical process and byspatial inequality of economic development. These phenomena are well known andbroadely described in literature. Now they are put to an empirical test underconditions of socialist industrialization doctrine carried into effect, and of a changeddynamics of economic growth in a socialized and centrally planned economy.

Maria Ciechocińska, Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization Polish Academy of Sciences, Twarda 51/55, 00‑818 Warszawa, Poland