Labour Mobility Study

Labour Mobility - Country Report - Poland

Agnieszka Fihel, Pawel Kaczmarczyk, Joanna Mackiewicz- Lyziak and Marek Okólski

in: Labour Mobility - Country Reports
Labour Mobility Study ,

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The 2004 EU enlargement constituted one of the most important emigration stimulus in the whole contemporary history of Poland. In fact, no other historical event has been associated with such a rapid outflow and a fundamental change in mobility directions and socio-demographic structure of migrants. According to recent estimates the number of Polish nationals staying abroad for longer than 2 months increased within 3 years - from 2004 to 2007 - from approximately 1 to 2.3 million. These developments are to be associated not only with the demographic potential of Poland but also with a situation, where there is a great number of people who are redundant in economic terms, and who could easily be turned into a highly mobile population. The postaccession migration developments in Poland are strongly correlated with the institutional framework. The increase in inflow from Poland was observed in all European countries, but the three countries that in 2004 did not introduce labour market restrictions towards Polish citizens became major migration magnets, while the role of those countries that introduced Transitory Arrangements (including Germany) significantly diminished. United Kingdom became the most important receiving country for Polish migrants attracting more than half a million persons (a 25- fold increase since 2002). In fact, recent migration from Poland to the UK is one of the most rapid and intense flows in contemporary Europe. The introduction of the Transitory Arrangements is also to be linked with significant changes with regard to structural features of migration. Polish citizens choosing countries that did not introduce labour market restrictions are, generally, younger and better educated, and are originating from both small and large cities. Demographic impact of recent migration is particularly severe in the south-eastern part of Poland. With regard to the labour market, migration is typically perceived as a main contributor to recent changes leading from jobs' shortages to shortage of workers. However, due to the fact that massive post-accession outflow is accompanied by good economic performance and gradual improvement of the situation on the labour market there are serious difficulties with assessment of the impact of migration on the labour market. As we argue, the impact of the post-accession outflow on the Polish labour market is greatly exaggerated. The recent labour market situation is rather an outcome of an interplay between complex set of factors. Within them, migration plays an important, but definitely not decisive, role.


Countries covered: Poland, Visegrad countries

Research Areas: Labour, Migration and Income Distribution