As Poland regained independence in 1918, it immediately had to deal with the question of how to shape its political and economic system. One important but at the same time controversial issue was the level of the state’s involvement in the economic life of the country and the measures used. In numerous debates among economists, the dominant topics included problems in the industry - in particular issues such as statism, monopolization, policy towards cartels and, in the later period, economic planning. The article presents the course of the discussion on the role of the state in the economy that took place in Poland in the years 1918-1939, as well as a review of arguments put forward by the proponents and opponents of state’s economic interventionism. For the purpose of this article, three groups that were most active in the debate were selected: the Kraków School, the Leviathan organization and the First Economic Brigade.
In the period of the Second Polish Republic, social policy became an important field of activity for public authorities. It was distinguished by a high level of awareness of the prevalent social problems, progressive legislation, and advanced management. The only missing element was sufficient financing. In the budgetary policy of the Second Polish Republic, social expenses were of minor importance. For the most part of the period, they amounted to approximately 3% of all expenses. The Ministry of Social Care was underfunded, which was evident in nearly every aspect of its activity. Hence, if one wonders if the origins of the Polish welfare state can be traced back to the Second Polish Republic, the answer must be “no”. Although extra funds (spent on tackling unemployment, pensions, or disability benefits) were found outside of the ministerial budget, the arguments presented in this article only confirm the hypothesis presented above.