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Health Fears Top the List in Poland, Inflation Concerns Fade

REPORTS & ANALYSISHealth Fears Top the List in Poland, Inflation Concerns Fade

The results of the latest edition of a biannual study, which focuses on the greatest fears and anxieties of Poles, reveals that health issues have become the primary concern. This is somewhat surprising as inflation had previously been the predominant worry for a long period of time. On the list of 37 potential threats, 48.9% of respondents indicated fears related to diseases of those closest to them. These fears are primarily held by senior citizens and the lowest earners. In second place on the list is the fear of disease and loss of personal health (38.8%). The top five also includes inflation, loss of money value (37.8%), rising food prices (30.9%), and increasing costs of electricity and heating (30%). The authors of the study point out that fears about health – both personal and of loved ones – could reflect underlying financial problems in Poland and difficulties in accessing comprehensive healthcare.

The study authors prepared a list of 37 fears and worries. Respondents were asked to indicate everything that they worry might happen in the near future. Only 2.4% of respondents reported not being afraid of anything. 0.8% fear something that was not included in the survey, and 3.3% of those polled could not define their fears. This is according to a report from UCE RESEARCH and the platform titled “CURRENT FEARS AND WORRIES OF THE POLES” based on a cyclical survey.

“Really, a small percentage of Poles have no fears. The vast majority experience worries, which are the result of many factors such as high inflation, price increases in stores, or the war in Ukraine. The election results and political uncertainty also contribute to the social atmosphere,” comments psychologist Michał Murgrabia, one of the co-authors of the study from the platform.

Of the fears and worries listed, the most respondents, 48.9%, indicated fear of diseases of their loved ones. “After the dominance of financial threats in previous editions of the study, fears about the health of loved ones again come to the fore. However, this issue also has an economic dimension. This might manifest in increased spending on health prevention. From a political perspective, it is also still a key topic. Access to free healthcare, waiting times, quality of services are scrutinized by Poles,” says Michał Pajdak, the other co-author of the study from the platform.

More women indicated fear of a loved one’s illness than men (56.9% vs. 40%). This fear was mainly reported by people aged 65-74 (52.9%), with a monthly net income below PLN 1000 (55.3%), and those with higher education (50.8%). It mainly affected city dwellers of 20,000 to 49,000 inhabitants (53.4%).

“It is obvious that seniors, whose pensions are often modest, as well as the lowest-earning Poles, may fear most for the health of their loved ones. In a situation of illness in the family, they could struggle to provide aid. This is often associated with significant financial expenditure. Currently, even the purchase of basic cold medicine can be a serious cost for such people,” assert analysts from UCE RESEARCH who worked on the report.

Besides health issues, the top five list of fears and worries also includes inflation, loss of money’s value (37.8%), rising prices of food and other goods in stores (30.9%), and increased costs of electricity and heating (30%). The authors remind that in previous editions (like in June last year and December 2022), inflation and loss of money’s value were consistently in the high two places.

“About one-third of respondents indicated fears about illness, loss of health, inflation, loss of money value, rising food and energy prices, suggesting that these issues constitute a significant area of societal concerns. This can be interpreted as the emergence of health-economic fears. In the face of health, financial, and social difficulties, health concerns may currently be more emphasized. The pandemic has made health a priority, and economic concerns are often related to the lack of funds for medical care or access to basic goods,” explains Michał Murgrabia.

Further on the list are such threats as weather anomalies (including frosts, blizzards, hurricanes, floods) – 28.7%, decreased quality of life – 28.4%, influx of immigrants – 25.3%, death of loved ones – 22.9%, and also the return of the pandemic – 22.6%.

“The subject of immigration has shown extraordinary dynamics. A year ago, 17% of respondents were afraid of this phenomenon, half a year ago – 23%. This means that this problem is visible and constantly growing, and Poles are experiencing it in practice. And it’s not just about war-induced migration. Many small towns are seeing high numbers of labor immigrants from Asia. They bring new skills, labor force and entrepreneurship to the economy. They can support economic growth by increasing production potential and consumption. However, many Poles may feel that newcomers are taking away their jobs or creating competition. This topic requires immediate educational action,” warns Michał Pajdak.

Considering the positions from the list of 37 fears and worries, at the very bottom is the fall of the church community – 2.6%. Before that are the concerns about fluctuations in real estate prices – 4.2%, breakdown of one’s relationship or divorce – 5.4%, rising currency prices – 6.3%, and also traffic accidents – 7.3%.

“The end of the list is classic, as these are the issues that Poles have for many years considered unlikely to happen, or do not admit to having such thoughts. But some matters simply may not concern them. It should not therefore be surprising that these scenarios have been indicated by the fewest respondents. Neither does it seem that this will quickly change,” conclude UCE RESEARCH analysts.

The study was conducted using the CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interview) method by UCE RESEARCH and the platform, on a sample of 1042 adult Poles as part of a cyclic report entitled “CURRENT FEARS AND WORRIES OF THE POLES”.

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