What will Poland look like in a few dozen years? Like a country with little economic clout in European politics and where one is more likely to meet pensioners sitting on park benches than smiling children.

This year will probably set a sad record for Polish demography. According to data from the Central Statistics Office (GUS), the country saw 183,000 births and 202,000 deaths in the first six months of 2013. Should this trend continue, Poland's population will decline, over the entire year, by nearly 40,000 people, the equivalent of a town the size of Sopot, [a Baltic seaside resort].

Certainly, this is not the first time that the birth-rate is negative, this was also the case from 2002 to 2005. But today the situation is particularly troubling. Until now, the most significant fall registered since World War II was in 2003 with a decline of 14,000 people.

Last year's growth of 1,500 people is not likely to be repeated in the years – maybe even the decades – to come. GUS forecasts that the mortality rate will outstrip the birth-rate by 110,000 people in 2025 and by 178,000 in 2035. In all, by 2035, the population of our country will have declined by 2.5 million people, which is the equivalent of, for example, razing the Lodz region from the map.

Middle age spread

Already, 30 year olds are the largest age group in the country, while the 50-60 year olds are more numerous than children under 10

The population will become fewer and fewer as well as older and older. Already, 30 year olds are the largest age group in the country, while the 50-60 year olds are more numerous than children under 10. At the end of the next decade, society will be dominated by the 40-50 year olds and there will be more 70 year olds than teenagers. In 2035, half of the women will be over 50 years old and half of the men will be over 46 years old.

Although the number of people of working age, that is women 18 to 59 and men 18 to 64, should remain stable in the coming years, the future is not bright. The number of people yet to enter the job market is falling progressively while the number leaving is rising and this will pose problems in the long term: lack of manpower and, especially, maintaining pension schemes.

The aging of the population will force many organisational changes in our society. We will need less nursery and primary schools but more dispensaries and hospitals specialising not in paediatrics but in gerontology.

Courting the grey vote

It will become easier to earn a living caring for the elderly than for children

It will become easier to earn a living caring for the elderly than for children. Some sectors, such as the production of medical equipment, spas and tourism aimed at senior citizens, provide a large potential for development. Once the majority of the population has raised its children – or not had any at all – it will be better able to fulfil its own consumer needs.

Political party platforms will also be modified. Rather than offering a long-term vision, which, in any case is not the forte of our political parties, or of talking about grand investments for the future, our political leaders will be content with managing the elderly's immediate needs such as health care or pensions.

This demographic trend will also change the balance of power in the European Union because the system takes into account the population count of each country. Poland will not be the only county affected but it will undoubtedly fall within the ranks of the major losers.

Just compare Poland to Spain. In 1990, the population of the two countries was roughly identical (38 million inhabitants in Poland and 38.8 million in Spain). Yet, according to a United Nation's forecast, in 2050 Poland's population will shrink to 34 million while Spain's will expand to 48 million.