Polish Households Are Worth More Than Germany's, Survey Reveals

  • Survey shows Poles more likely to own homes, have less debt
  • Home ownership boosted by badly functioning home-rental market

Polish households are worth more than German ones when you include the value of their homes and subtract debts.

That’s the finding from a survey by the National Bank of Poland published on Tuesday, which puts the median net worth of a Polish household at 61,700 euros ($71,450), compared with 51,400 euros for a German family unit. Poles owe their relative affluence in this study to a higher proportion of home ownership and fewer loans, including mortgages, with the nation’s per capita income 70 percent lower than in Germany.

Buying an apartment is preferred in Poland, in part because the country doesn’t have a properly functioning home-rental market, as is the case in Germany or Austria, according to the report. The flip-side is that this real estate attachment is making Poles more reluctant to move domestically in search of jobs, according to Piotr Banbula, head of the macroprudential policy department at the central bank and co-author of the report.

“When I was working in Frankfurt, one of my colleagues was surprised to find out that I already own an apartment,” Banbula, 35, told reporters in Warsaw. “He rented and wouldn’t even start thinking about getting a place of his own until well into his forties.”

More than three-fourths of Polish families own the apartments in which they live, compared with 60 percent on average in the euro area and 44 percent in Germany, the study showed.

Fifty-nine percent of Polish households led by adults younger than 35 own their home, compared with 32 percent in the euro region. Only 12 percent of Polish families have taken out mortgages, about half the amount in the single-currency area.

The wealth of Polish households, as defined by the survey of 7,000 families across the eastern European country, mainly comprises fixed assets such as property, which is typical for less developed economies, the central bank said. Households in more mature economies hold a bigger share of financial assets as well as debt, which drives down their net value.

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