Demographic Development of Polish Voivodeship Cities in 1999-2022
Purpose: The aim of the paper is to analyse and evaluate the components of population change in voivodship centres in Poland in the period 1999-2022. The spatial approach allows one to observe the heterogeneity and diversity of demographic processes in individual cities. To this end, an assessment was made of the examined cities, considering changes in the number of population and its components - the balance of natural and migratory movements, as well as the role of individual elements in shaping the real population growth of the examined settlement units. Design/Methodology/Approach: The research analysis employed statistical and cartographic methods to present the research results. These methods enabled the determination of the dynamics, nature, and scale of changes in demographic processes occurring in the surveyed settlement units. Indicators and proportions describing the relative values of the studied phenomena formed the basis for detailed analysis. To examine the relations between the components of actual growth, the method developed by J. W. Webb was used, allowing the determination of the state of population development of the spatial units, considering the interdependencies between natural increase or decrease and positive or negative migration balance. Findings: The results clearly illustrate diversity in the population changes of specific Polish voivodship cities between 1999 and 2022. Most of the analysed settlement units saw a decrease in their population potential in this period, typically due to both natural and migration-related decrease (11 cities). An increase in population was primarily recorded in the largest cities in the country, i.e., Warsaw, Kraków, Wrocław, and Gdańsk, as well as those which expanded their population potential as a result of extending their territory (Rzeszów, Zielona Góra), largely due to migration inflow to these centres. Practical Implications: Changes in the population potential of cities significantly impact their socio-economic development. The population status of urban centres is considered a crucial indicator of their settlement attractiveness. As the population increases, the economic potential, the diversity of economic functions, and the level of development of technical and social infrastructure also increase, leading to enhanced satisfaction of various social needs. Conversely, a decrease in the population, has the opposite effect, impacting both economic and social development. Originality/Value: The originality of the study stems from a multifaceted analysis of population changes in voivodship centres in Poland, examining their directions and dynamics, while taking into account the impact of individual components of real growth. This analysis may also serve as a basis for forecasting changes that will occur in voivodship towns in the future.