Very strong coefficients for spontaneous and piezoelectric polarizations have recently been predicted for III-V nitride semiconductors with natural wurtzite symmetry. Such polarizations influence significantly the mechanisms of radiative emissions in quantum-confinement heterostructures based on these materials. The photoluminescence decay time of excitons is used as a probe of internal electric fields in GaN-(Ga, Al)N quantum wells in various configurations of strain, well widths, and barrier widths. The measured decays are not only controlled by radiative lifetimes, which depend on the fields inside GaN wells but also on the nonradiative escape of carriers through Ga1 - xAlyN barriers, which depends on their widths and on the electric field in these layers. It is shown in particular that the magnitude of the held in the wells is not a simple function of the strain of these layers via the only piezoelectric effect, but rather the result of the interplay of spontaneous and piezoelectric polarizations in both well and barrier materials. [S0163-1829(99)02923-9].