In the literature, the problem of poverty is analyzed in various aspects. Both the causes and effects of this social problem are examined, as well as the territorial, age and socio-economic issues of this phenomenon. The general directions of policy actions in the field of poverty reduction are determined at the central level, however, the government is not able to carry out all tasks, therefore, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, some of them delegate to the local government units (LGUs). This study fills in the research gap in the perception of the problem of poverty by LGUs. The main objectives of the study were defined, namely: 1) identification of the scale of the spatial differentiation of the poverty in Poland between voivodships, 2) characteristics of the extent of occurrence of poverty in communes of the Małopolska Voivodship depending on the type of commune, 3) assessment of the impact of the aging population on the perception of the problem of poverty. As part of the review part of the work, a critical analysis of the literature on the subject and the synthesis of previous research were used. The empirical part is based on data from the Central Statistical Office. The results of own research were also used, which the authors carried out in cooperation with the Regional Chamber of Audit in Cracow. The study was conducted using the CAWI method on a sample of 131 communes of the Małopolska Voivodship. The obtained results were subjected to statistical analysis, based on elements of descriptive statistics, cluster analysis (k-means clustering). As a result of the conducted research, it was found that there are significant differences in the level of poverty in individual voivodships. Lower values were observed in the case of Western Poland. In addition, in 2008-2017 a significant decrease in the level of poverty, especially extreme poverty, was noted. It was also stressed that from the point of view of the communes, the problem of poverty is one of the most important social issues - as many as 75% of communes in the Małopolska Voivodship assess it as essential. It is also worth noting that the impact of this assessment is on the degree of the severity of aging processes.
Keywords: poverty, spatial differentiation of the poverty, Małopolska Voivodship, local government units