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Financial Morality in Poland: Majority Support Debt Repayment, But Growing Uncertainty Among Some

FINANCEFinancial Morality in Poland: Majority Support Debt Repayment, But Growing Uncertainty Among Some

About 9 out of 10 Poles believe that one should honor their financial obligations. However, for 7% of respondents, the issue is not so clear-cut. What opinions do residents of different regions express?

The latest edition of the “Financial Morality of Poles” survey, published by the Association of Financial Companies in Poland (ZPF), reveals that 91% of Poles consider repaying debts to always be a moral obligation.

This is the 9th edition of the report, authored by Prof. Anna Lewicka-Strzałecka, a researcher in the ethics of economic life. Partners of the “Financial Morality of Poles 2024” report include the Economic Information Bureau InfoMonitor, EOS Poland, Ikano Bank, and Ultimo.

“The Necessity of Honoring Obligations is Not Obvious to Everyone”

In the cyclical survey, Poles are asked: “Do you agree with the view that repaying debts is always a moral obligation?” In this year’s edition, 91% of respondents answered affirmatively. Conversely, 2% of respondents disagreed.

However, as Prof. Anna Lewicka-Strzałecka points out, the crucial percentage is of those for whom repaying debts is not an obvious matter. This group constitutes 7% compared to 1% in 2016.

“Although the percentage of people negating the obligation to repay debts historically fluctuated around 1-3%, the percentage of those considering such behavior as an absolute moral duty has gradually decreased over the past few years,” says Prof. Anna Lewicka-Strzałecka. “This indicates a growing area of ambiguity in Polish society, where the necessity of honoring obligations is not clear to everyone.”

Who Typically Negates the Obligation to Repay Debts? Here’s the Answer

According to the “Financial Morality of Poles 2024” report, men are more likely than women to disagree with the view that repaying debts is always a moral obligation. Young people (18-29 years old) and those already facing difficulties repaying loans or feeling wronged by financial institutions are also more likely to negate the duty of repaying debts.

“Comparisons with last year’s survey results indicate a relative consistency in the profile of individuals who show greater tolerance for financial misconduct,” observes Prof. Anna Lewicka-Strzałecka.

Repaying Debts as a Moral Obligation: Expert Comments

Sławomir Grzelczak, President of BIG InfoMonitor

The necessity of honoring obligations is not obvious to everyone and is not treated as a moral duty. And still, as shown by the survey results, not everyone realizes that such an approach can have negative consequences and impact our reputation as a reliable payer.

For many years, we have been collecting data on unpaid consumer obligations and have recently observed an upward trend, with Poles’ debts reaching record levels. Therefore, it is our task to educate, motivate, and remind that debts must be repaid.

Poles struggle with timely payments of various obligations. At BIG InfoMonitor, these include overdue rent, phone bills, internet and cable TV bills, fines for fare evasion, debts to the judiciary, insurers, and alimony, which is alarming. In BIK, it involves housing loan installments, cash loans, installment loans, non-bank loans, and recently also purchases with deferred payment. It’s important to remember that ruining your payment credibility doesn’t require large amounts of arrears. It’s essential to control spending and not be overly optimistic about taking on obligations to avoid exceeding one’s capabilities. I always emphasize that one should borrow responsibly.

Karina Poznańska, Senior Manager of Communication and ESG Team, EOS Poland

Repaying debts is not only a legal matter but also reflects universal values such as honesty, respect, and fairness. Honesty in financial relations is the foundation of social trust. When we repay our obligations, we demonstrate reliability.

Respect, both for oneself and others, is shown through our readiness to fulfill agreements. Everyone should act according to principles that are equal for all. It is necessary to continue promoting values related to financial responsibility, education, and the importance of honesty in financial matters. Repaying debts is an integral part of building a trust-based society and the key to a responsible future.

Jerzy Biskup, Branch Manager Ikano Bank Polska

According to BIG InfoMonitor, despite improving economic conditions, the debt of adult Poles increased by 7% year-on-year by the end of April 2024. At the same time, the number of people facing financial problems has decreased.

This may indicate a deepening of financial problems for those who have them. Although most Poles still believe in honoring their financial obligations, it can be inferred that as financial problems persist, this moral principle is eroding among some individuals. This thesis is supported by the statistical profile of individuals who do not agree that repaying debts is always a moral obligation. They are typically young men with very low incomes. This indicates that there is a need not only for further education on ethical financial management but also for finding ways to support the financial condition of young people.

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