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New International Mobility of Poles

La nouvelle mobilité internationale des Polonais
Marek Więckowski
p. 261-270

Résumés

Depuis la chute du Rideau de Fer, les sociétés d’Europe centrale et orientale se sont engagées dans un processus de mobilité croissante – et parmi elles, en particulier les Polonais. Cette mobilité est complexe et comprend différents types de mouvements. Cet article vise à replacer la mobilité des Polonais dans un champ d’explication théorique. Il présente les problèmes soulevés par la mesure statistique de la mobilité. Puis il se concentre sur la mobilité internationale des Polonais : migrations de travail, déplacements touristiques. L’article livre une analyse sociologique des migrants et des touristes ainsi que des transports utilisés.

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Texte intégral

Introduction

1The contemporary society is a society of mobile individuals [Stock, 2005]. Migration and tourism are one of the most important elements of mobility. And it is important to underline that the mobility forms are not only individual practices but also social practices. This kind of mobility is connected to life styles, traditions, economic possibilities and social norms.

2The geopolitical and socio-economic changes in East-Central Europe, that had started at the beginning of the 1990s, have brought about a radical increase and changes in people’s movements in a lot of spheres of life and work. Along with the political, economic and social transition which occurred in Poland after 1989, the mechanisms and patterns of mobility including migration and tourism have also changed. New practice of Poles’ mobility differs significantly for quite some time. The recent significant increase of mobility is one of the most visible social and economic changes in the Polish society.

3In Poland, where the European integration is in the middle phase and the changes to capitalist economy are on the stocks, the importance of mobility is really growing. By comparison with other West European countries, this process is still in ihe initial phase. Debates on the Polish invoking, contemporary notions of community participation and mobility development are related to issues and arguments which may not be easily accommodated in « Western models ».

4New forms of mobility started to appear at the turn of the 20 and 21st centuries. They have increased in volume, style and geographical scope in the recent years, especially after Poland’s accession to the European Union. However, there are new forms of mobility which were unimaginable and impossible a generation earlier. There are many important questions about new forms of Poles’ mobility. First of all – what kind of mobility? Would that be a spatial, mental, individual or social mobility?

5It is in that context that this paper aims to briefly review the international mobility of Poles at the beginning of the 21st century. This article investigates mobility as migratory and tourism movements of Poles on the international scale. The goal of this paper is to provide with the analysis of international mobility of Poles and to consider the significance of some emerging mobility trends.

Mobility – theoretical frameworks

6Zelinsky argued that mobility increases in the course of development [Zelinsky, 1971]. It is clear that in the course of time the distance between residential and working areas increases, as the ability of mobility increases as well, because of the progress in transportation.

7Mobility is a social phenomenon with strong spatial implications. Mobility can be found at many different scales: from the local and national ones to the global. In most of scientific researches about mobility, analyses are reduced to people’s flows and their directions. This element seams to be a decisive factor of contemporary mobility. First of all, the process of international migration and international tourism of Poles is very interesting, complex and rapidly changing.

8Mobility takes many different forms including the movement involved in trade, investment, and knowledge. In a changing society, mobility is a wide process, which includes changes of location, mentality and social position.

9Human mobility can be understood on the first hand as a passenger traffic from one place to another and on the other as a kind of unreal displacement of the cities and regions in the space. First of all, thanks to the transport improvement as well a significant increase in transport: dynamic, links and speed.

10It is obvious that the motives to increase the mobility of individual persons create complex compound of choices and constraints. Simultaneously there is an interplay of globally effective factors, particularly economic ones, with localities – something which manifests itself primarily in culture and individual lifestyle. Accelerated movements of people between countries are connected to a period of world economic development in which transnational exchanges of all kinds are growing more rapidly than production itself [Grimwade, 1989]. Indeed this is what globalization really means for mobility [Held and McGrew, 1994].

11Spatial mobility is not a univocal concept, it rather has different meanings. It refers in one context to physical movements, and in another one to communicator metaphorical movements, and concerns humans, goods, information, ideas and so on [Urry, 2000 ; Castells, 1996]. Spatial mobility is an exceedingly general and vague concept. [Kaufmann, 2005]. This notion is scattered among different fields of research and scope. It is also wide in meaning because it covers different phenomena with no links between them. This can neglect transversal subjects for research.

12It is also very important to underline the significance of human mobility for the contemporary world. As mentioned by Hannam, Sheller and Urry, mobilities are centrally involved in reorganizing institutions, generating climate change, moving risks and illnesses across the globe, altering travel, tourism and migration patterns, producing a more distant family life, transforming the social and educational life of young people, connecting distant people through ‘weak ties’ and so on [Hannam et al., 2006). The same authors point out that mobility should not be limited just only to the population movement. It also influences the division of object, capital and information [Hannam et al., 2006].

13Modenes (1998) mentioned different types of population mobility:

  • usual mobility,

  • daily mobility,

  • occasional mobility

  • and residential mobility.

14Kaufmann (2005), based on previous studies conducted by Schuler et al.(1997), presented the typology of human mobility, which consists of four kinds of movements:

  • residential mobility (with reference to residential cycle);

  • migration (international and interregional immigration and emigration);

  • travel (tourism and business travel);

  • daily mobility (daily journeys such as commuting).

15The four main forms of spatial mobility can be classified according to the Kauffman proposition (see Table 1).

Table 1. The four main forms of spatial mobility

Short duration

Long duration

Internal to the living area

daily mobility

residential mobility

Near the outside of the living area

travel

migration

Source: Kaufmann V. (2005), Re-Thinking Mobility. Contemporary Sociology

16The forms of mobility that are linked to the longer temporal durations have a systematic impact on the shorter forms. The moving itself makes in evitable people’s daily mobility different. After moving, people inevitably have a daily mobility that is different, even if only the pace followed on a daily basis has changed. An international migration not only modifies a person’s daily mobility, but may also generate travel and create specific residential mobility, and so on. According to M. Stock (2005), the mobility as a temporary and spatial process can be divided in inside daily mobility (e.g. work, and recreation) and outside, long-term mobility (business travel, tourism). A. Williams and C.M. Hall (2002) suggested that analysis of temporary mobility is difficult to make because of its multidimensional nature, and the poor quality of the available secondary data as well as a weak theoretical framework.

17Kaufmann stressed that recently new forms of mobility “have appeared”. They are related to some modern process connected to the globalization, especially – means of transport development. There are at least four situations when these new “forms of mobility” take place:

  • work place and home are far away from each other and it is impossible or at least very difficult to travel between them each day;

  • couples, provide their own households living far away from each other, and spend only weekends and holidays together;

  • household have a dual residence (spend workdays in a city, and weekends in their second home);

  • household (or individual) practice a short-term tourism.

18These kinds of mobility in international scale are in the initial phase and concern only some border regions and some specific professions. In the international dimension of mobility it is every cross-border movement, both in the short and in the long distance. Types of cross-border mobility were presented by D. Hall (2000) and divided in four main groups: international tourism, cross-border petty trading and shopping, labor migration, refugee flight.

Data sources

19Data constraints, together with a weak theoretical base really needed for an holistic approach, have contributed to the lack of research on mobility in certain areas as a whole process. The complexity of the mobility process provides also some difficulties in understanding both spatial and social process. It could cause also some problems in the interpretation of mobility data. This leads us to the over- or underestimation of the scale and the character of mobility process.

20As all studies on migration and tourism, the analysis in this paper is supported by a relatively poor and inconsistent base of underlying data and information. The problems with counting international migrants and measuring workers’ remittances are notoriously difficult. Official estimates are known to contain very large errors in both overstating and understating actual stocks and flows.

21In Poland, a lack of studies about mobility in the past decades and a lack of strict data were the results of difficulties in collecting the information and the negligence of the importance of this process.

22The information presented in this paper derives from the existing national data on tourism and migration. The major part of international data used in this paper were prepared by the Institute of Tourism. The paper restricts its scope largely to evidence from secondary data, although clearly many of surveys and non-officials data.

Increase of mobility

23During the post-war period, Poles’ international mobility depended on the country’s socio-political situation. Between 1945 and 1989, all legal acts relating to foreign migration were strictly controlled and blocked. After, socio-political changes mobility has increased and played a more and more important role in the Polish society.

24According to Wong’s research in the 90’s, Poland has shown a high immobility, especially among farmers [Wong, 1995]. Women are more likely to experience short-distance than long-distance mobility, they are disproportionately allocated, irrespective of social origins and positions. Whether there are interactions between gender and class to generate country-specific mobility patterns, however, it is still questionable.

25At the beginning of the 90’s, differences between the two mobility regimes (in capitalist and socialist countries) are evident [Erikson and Goldthorpe, 1992]. Generally, there were more long-distance upward and downward mobility and inflows and outflows of the self-employed classes in the socialist societies. The descriptive statistics suggest that Poland, as a result of its large agricultural population, had the lowest percent of structural mobility.

26As an example of the new forms of mobility presented by Wallace et al (1996), was the young Pole visiting Germany with a tourist visa, but paying for his trip by taking casual work and petty trading. It was a popular form of mobility in the 90’s – trip abroad as a combination of tourism, short or long migration, work and trade.

27From the four main groups of cross-border mobility of Poles, the refugee flow doesn’t exist. The cross-border petty trading and shopping was largely represented in the 90’s. At the beginning of the 21st century, the significance of this type of mobility has been reduced. Actually, the two other types of international mobility: international tourism and labor migration, play this very important role.

28In 2007, the number of all departures increased to 47,6 millions. It is a total number of the Poles’ crossing border, and it boils down to a total number of international mobility of Poles. A large majority of this number is just one-day visitors in the neighboring countries. The number of the tourist trips, with minimum one night spent abroad, is 6,9 millions (in 2006, 7,3 millions).

Graph 1. The numbers of departures of Poles by year in 1985-2007

Graph 1. The numbers of departures of Poles by year in 1985-2007

Source : Border Guard

29The number of migration departure during one year is very difficult to establish. The migration departures are hidden in the tourist trips and a little part of non-countable border crossings. Mobility of Poles in terms of international departures is a combination of tourism trips, labor migration and trade. It would be difficult to separate all these kinds of international trips. Mobility is a value with its own inherent differentiations. Thanks to mobility, people can change their own social status. The consequences of new forms of mobility are very large. The implications of these new forms, directly or indirectly, touch most people: on the one hand, the consequences include gains and losses in labor supply, innovation and contact network whilst, on the other hand they include changes in house prices, services, cultural image, opening of the society and tourist travel growth.

30Bell and Ward (2000) proposed a location of the different types of mobility in a two dimensional representation of space and time. Using their proposition it is possible to change this framework and presenting a part concerning an international mobility only. This concept, presented in the table 2, permits to explain the new forms of Poles’ international mobility.

Table 2. The main forms of Poles’ spatial mobility

Time

Kinds of international dimension of mobility

Mobility example

Main mobility flows regions

of origin

Main abroad destination

Years (more than 12 months)

Migration

Changing of living and working place for many years

Towns, peripheral regions,

Great Britain, Ireland, Germany and other West-European countries

Months

Seasonal work

Departures for work reason

Less developed regions

Germany, Great Britain, Ireland

Long term tourist travel

Sightseeing, expeditions, travel with work

Big towns

Generally out-European countries (exotic destination, USA)

Study

Departures for studying abroad, usually for one semester or one academic year

Large spatial spectrum, mainly from big towns

Whole Europe (e.g. Great Britain, France, Germany)

weeks

Vacations

International travel trips

Big towns

Italy, Austria, Croatia, France and neighboring countries (Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic)

days

Business travel

Conference participation, business meetings, etc.

Big cities

Whole the world

Health care

Treatment visit abroad

Big cities

Small scale of phenomenon (important European health centers)

Excursions

Short term tourist trips

Big towns, peripheral areas

Big European cities, neighboring countries (Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic)

hours

CommutingVisits and short recreational trip Sshopping

Recreation short trips, transit, trade and shopping

Polish boundary areas, not only residents

Boundary areas

Source: own author’s elaboration

31The significant growth of the mobility value is clear and obvious. More detailed information about migration and tourism will be presented in the next parts of this paper.

The new international wave of poles’ migration

32Demographic trends have a strong impact on the societies of Poland. In the recent past years, migration has become the main factor, behind demographic changes, in Poland. It is a fact that Poland is losing people to many developed countries and remains a net emigration country. Largest losses are to neighboring Germany, the United States, and Canada, where already is a large Polish diaspora population as a result of past migrations. In total, after the war period, 5-6 million Poles have left Poland.

33Migration during the transition period in Poland appeared due to:

  • less control over migration, and suppression of border control and immigration procedure;

  • prices determine the market and income is increasingly distributed among people, sectors, and countries;

  • salaries and prices have adjusted to their market-clearing value;

  • open economies, involvement with international institutions, and globalization;

  • growth of mobility as a social process;

  • improvement transport links (and decline in prices).

34Great Britain and Ireland are the most important destination countries for migrants from Poland, while Germany used to be an important destination in the first half of the 1990s. and earlier. If it comes to Germany the number of Poles is most probably underestimated because many Poles are able to travel to this country rather easily, as well as work there without permit. This amount encompasses the period before Poland became an EU member and does not include Poles working in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Sweden. Many of them would not likely be included in this total, because such labor migrants generally do not report their departure from Poland. It is not considered to be permanent residence. The official Polish data show only a several thousands departures as permanents. This official data is obviously underestimated [Sleszynski, 2006]. A majority of Poles working abroad are still registered as residents in Poland but they have been living in other countries for many years now. Main motives for migration from Poland are listed below table 3.

Table 3. Main motives for international migration of Poles

Push factors

Pull factors

Poverty
Unemployment
Low salaries (income)
Basic and insufficient health and education system
poor perspectives for the future

Perspective of higher salaries
Potential to improve the standard of living
Personal or professional development
Safety and security
Opening of labor market by many EU countries
Easy way of transportation

Source: Author’s proposition

35On the other hand, a majority of these people visit Poland a few times a year for short stays (e.g. for the holidays, vacations). The increase of income and free time makes the departures more common, and the process of mobility is growing rapidly.

36Most of the present departures are pendular migrations, embrace periodic, often systematical trips to the work. These stays turn into permanent migrations which we can call emigration. The value of this migration, after Poland’s accession to the European Union is estimated between 1,5 - 2 million people.

37Earlier the main regions from which the population left abroad were Opole region, Malopolska and Northern Podlasie. The main part of people were persons poorly educated (not to count waves of political migrations). At present we observe intensive migrations of young persons, better educated (often also studying) which originate both from large cities as well as peripheral areas. For the last several years, the geographical distribution of migrants has been growing [Kaczmarek, 2006].

38According to the Mansoor and Quillin (2007) improvements in the overall quality of life in Poland, (and other central European countries) have the potential to: reduce out-migration rates, induce migrants in the diaspora to return home, and provide incentives for migrants to use the human and financial resources, including remittances, accumulated abroad but being used at the native country. Many of these reasons will improve a quality of life, their economic situation and will increase their mobility. The growth of income and knowledge about travel are the main factors to start and also to improve tourist departure travel especially at the international level. The growth of a new wave of international labor mobility acts upon the improvement of human and knowledge capital. The growing internationalization of Polish labor mobility can be seen as the tourism-migration nexus. This process improves also the potential for visiting friends and families tourism. There are increasing numbers of work experience, living and travelling abroad.

International tourism trips

39Generally all together the proportion of holiday trips (4 nights or more) within a country (domestic trips) compared with those outside the country (outbound trips) was more than 80%, and represented one of the highest percentage in the European Union. This is mainly because the mobility is relatively low, the international trips are expensive, and many people are not familiar with foreign languages. In fact, Poles often spend their own holiday visiting friends and family in their own country.

40The conditions of Poles’ participation in international tourism is greatly conditioned by such factors as age, educational, social, professional and material status, and the size of the place of residence (number of inhabitants). The high educated persons participate more intensively in international tourism. The majority of international trips are effectuated by university graduated persons (about 30% of all the international trips). The population of the biggest cities dominates comparing with others (cities over 500 thousands people – more than 20% of trips; 100-500 thousands, about 20% of all).

41Regarding the purpose of travelling, leisure activities are the main reason. They constitute 40-45% of international trips. In 2004, however, its share dropped to 38% and went up again in 2005. In 2006 it was 44%. Stays with families and friends reached the level of about 25%, and the share of business trips and decreased significantly (from 33% to 19% in 2005 and 2006).

42Work is still an important reason for travelling abroad. This situation is similar whether the distribution by travel time or by distance travelled is analyzing.

43The main tourist destinations choosing by Poles are Germany, the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, Italy and two south neighboring countries: Czech Republic and Slovak Republic (see table 4). It is evident that Germany is not an evident tourist destination for Poles. This is the result of the combination of work and travel as well as of short migration, counted as tourist trips.

Table 4. Tourist trips in 10 most often visited countries and total tourist trips (in million)

Year

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

Germany

2,8

2,6

3,6

2,5

2,65

2,6

2,3

1,85

2,75

1,55

UK

0,3

0,2

0,25

0,15

0,15

0,15

0,2

0,3

0,6

0,85

Czech Rep.

0,9

0,8

0,6

0,7

0,7

0,5

0,55

0,5

0,55

0,40

The Netherlands

0,15

0,15

0,3

0,2

0,45

0,25

0,15

0,25

0,55


0,3

Italy

0,9

0,8

1

0,6

0,45

0,55

0,5

0,55

0,45

0,35

Slovakia

0,65

0,5

0,65

0,8

0,55

0,5

0,55

0,5

0,35

0,45

Austria

0,55

0,5

0,45

0,5

0,4

0,45

0,35

0,35

0,3

0,35

Croatia

-

-

0,4

0,5

0,3

0,2

0,15

0,25

0,25

0,25

France

0,65

0,5

0,75

0,5

0,55

0,35

0,2

0,3

0,2

0,45

Hungary

0,2

0,3

0,25

0,45

0,35

0,25

0,1

0,15

0,2

0,15

Total

7,6

7,5

9,6

7,7

8,4

7,2

6,3

6,2

7,3

6,9

Source: survey by the Institute of Tourism

44All the data are approximate. Some tourists visit more than one country during their travels, therefore, the number of visits to a given country may exceed the number of departures. For example, departures for Germany are very frequent, but a great number of them are linked to further travels to other countries of Western Europe. Similarly, Polish nationals travelling to Southern and South - Western Europe usually go through the Czech and Slovak Republics (Institute of Tourism).

Mode of transport and mobility of poles

45The demographic and income changes are necessary conditions for the growth of mobility, but not necessary for international mobility. It also depends on transport and communication changes [Williams and Hall, 2002). The speed potential permitted by the technology of transport systems is often seen as an instrument for offering people mobility, as a means to make them mobile. People’s need for easy access to goods and services has increased the demand for transport. Technological and cost changes in transport have been decisive factor in the time-space compression. Time and cost barriers to mobility have been significantly lowered, and this is particularly important as changes in: leisure and tourism time, business departures and in possibility to temporary work abroad. Theses changes have increased the scope for temporary migration, business travel and holiday tourism.

46However, despite improvements in the means of public transport, this need is predominately satisfied by the use of private cars. In comparison with other European countries (table 5) rail and coach using was many times higher.

47Table 5. Breakdown of trips by mode of transport, 2004 (%)

Vehicle

Air

Rail

Coach

Waterway

EU-25

57.5

25.2

8.1

7.6

1.6

EU-15

57.3

27.0

7.5

6.4

1.7

Poland

58.4

3.5

18.7

19.4

Source: Eurostat

48Table 5 shows the means of transport for all holiday trips (4 nights or more) used by Polish tourists in the year 2004 in comparison with average for European Union. At a national level, private cars and bus transport were the most popular means of transport with respectively 58.4% and 19.4%. Regarding the modes of travel used by Poles, the car represents more than the half of the total travel departures. Cars and buses were used for more than 3/4 of all holiday and migration trips.

49Rail transport was relatively important for trips, but especially in short distance to neighboring countries (for all tourists in Poland with 18.7%).

50The air transport represented one of the poorest transport branches before 2004. The air transport causes stress on a plain, at the airport and at the place of departure or destination. Due to this fact more Poles choose for international departures a bus transport (even if the cost of them is higher than the air transport tickets).

51Polish tourists tend to use more and more the air transport for holiday purposes. The low-coast air transport is growing since the Poland’s accession to the European Union.

52When considering, the number of relations between Poland and other countries show several significant passenger-flows with the neighbor countries which are a sign of cross-border commuting by train. For international journeys, which only consider the part performed on the territory of the declaring country, it comes as no surprise that geographically big countries display relatively high values. Furthermore, the Poland’s position on the European map considerably influences the trip length. With its central position in the EU and 7 neighboring countries, Poland has an average international trip length amounted to more than 260 km per trip. The average international train journey thus started relatively close near to the Polish borders.

53In the last two years we can observe significant changes in the transport meanings for international Poles’ trips. The increasing of car, bus and train use is appreciable. In the same time the growth of plane use has been more rapid (table 6).

Table 6. International trips effectuated by Poles by mode of transport in 2006 and 2007 (%)

2006

2007

Own car

52

36

Other car

5

14

Train

4

10

Bus

18

10

Air

17

32

Source: Survey by the Institute of Tourism

54It is important to underline that the number of trips taken by air have significantly grown for 3-4 years (in 2004 +37,2% compared with the previous year, in 2005 +47,3%, in 2006 +51,1%).

Conclusions

55By analyzing Polish international mobility it is possible to note several essential changes: an increase of the international mobility, an increasing complexity of the migration and tourism movements and a change of motives for departures.

56Generally the known reasons of the increasing of the Poles’ mobility are:

  • the opening of the borders and the abolition of the process to obtain a visa

  • the improvement of communication, especially the growth of the number of links with the other European countries.

57The economic transition having followed the Poland’s entry into the EU in the 2004 had mainly positive consequences for Poles.

58Numbers of international jobs and income rose, legal work permits for working abroad appear. Socio-cultural changes also contribute to change the life style and increase mobility.

59Mobility of Poles, in terms of international departures which were unimaginable and impossible for the earlier generations, is still a combination of tourism trips, labor migration and trade. Separation of these kinds of international trips is difficult.

60At the beginning of 21st century, the two types of international mobility: international tourism and labor migration, play a very important role. Between 1988 and 2007, the number of all departures registered on Polish borders increased from 9,9 to 47,6 million (in 2000, 56,7 million). A large part are just one-day visits in the neighboring countries. The number of tourist trips, with a minimum of one night spent abroad is 6,9 million (in 2006, 7,3 million). The recent significant increase of mobility is one of the most visible social and economic changes in the Polish society. Compared with the other West European countries this process, is still in the initial phase. Furthermore, compared with other East and Central European countries the increase of mobility is more similar, but the scale of this process in Poland is biggest and more visible.

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Titre Graph 1. The numbers of departures of Poles by year in 1985-2007
Crédits Source : Border Guard
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Marek Więckowski, « New International Mobility of Poles », Espace populations sociétés, 2008/2 | 2008, 261-270.

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Marek Więckowski, « New International Mobility of Poles », Espace populations sociétés [En ligne], 2008/2 | 2008, mis en ligne le 01 septembre 2010, consulté le 21 octobre 2017. URL : http://eps.revues.org/2509 ; DOI : 10.4000/eps.2509

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Auteur

Marek Więckowski

Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization
Polish Academy of Sciences
IGiPZ PAN
Ul. Twarda 51/55
00-818 Warsaw
Pologne
marekw@twarda.pan.pl

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