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Migrations from Poland after 1 May 2004 with Special Focus on British Isles

Post-accession Migration Strategies as Hidden behind Statistics
L’émigration polonaise depuis 2004 : les stratégies migratoires post-accession masquées par les statistiques
Izabela Grabowska-Lusinska
p. 247-260


L’élargissement de l’Union Européenne (UE) de 2004 fut le tournant majeur dans le schéma post 1989 des migrations de travail des Polonais, liées à l’ouverture de nouveaux marchés du travail dans l’U.E. L’article répond à la question des changements et continuités dans l’émigration internationale à partir de la Pologne, et interroge les facteurs déterminant la destination, le secteur d’entrée sur le marché du travail. Le texte est basé sur le concept de stratégie migratoire post-accession, cachée derrière les statistiques des pays émetteurs et receveurs (celles des instituts nationaux, des administrations, des centres de recherche). Ainsi, on identifie cinq stratégies : sectorielle, de dispersion spatiale retardée, de déqualification latente, de « sur-travail » et familiale.

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Texte intégral


1After 1989, the permanent emigration from Poland has been decreasing and replaced with various forms of short-term mobility (often described as ‘incomplete migration’). The change was brought forward by the facilitations of the cross-border movements for the Polish citizens introduced by the Western European countries in the early 1990s. Thus, the increasing mobility was linked to the increasing short-term labour migration. The pattern that emerged was of temporary migrations to the secondary labour markets. At the same time, the directions of mobility changed – the migration for the USA dropped, while the streams to the EU countries increased, thus diversifying the destinations.

2The enlargement of the European Union (EU) of 2004 was the major watershed in the post-1989 migration patterns of Polish workers, mainly for the sake of opening the new labour markets within the EU.

History of migration from Poland – A synopsis

3It is difficult to describe contemporary process of migration from Poland without saying what had happened in the past. Throughout the centuries Poland was a labour pool for the developed countries of the world (mainly the USA, Canada, Australia, Germany, France and to less extend the UK).

4Over the centuries one can distinguish two types of Polish migrants: political dissidents wishing to avoid political repressions and labour migrants wishing to earn better wages.

  • The breakdown of ancient régime in Poland in 1989 means the new era, the new beginning in international migrations from Poland. Since 1989 one can distinguish couple of interesting trends [Iglicka, 2000; Okolski, 2001; Cyrus, 2006].

  • Table 1. shows that migration streams from Poland were intensified mainly in the 1950s and 1980s and it was strongly connected with the political situation at home. The decade of 50s was mainly a kind of continuity of post-war displacement policy of ethnic minorities. The 80s is a period of Martial Law in Poland, which pushed people to emigration. ‘Invisible, unregistered migration’ streams described the situation of Poland of that time. It is estimated that between 1.1-1.2 million people emigrated from Poland in the 1980s and only 27.000 were registered by the Polish registers [Okolski, 1994].

Table 1. Emigration from Poland 1951-2004 (‘000)


Number of officially registered migrants who left Poland















Source: Central Statistics Office (various years)

  • The first trend relates to a drop in emigrations from Poland as compared to earlier decades, since World War II.

  • The second trend of emigration from Poland is mostly related

  • to the duration of migration. Migrations from Poland of the transition period are predominately temporary and short-term [Cyrus, 2006], mainly to take up employment (registered and unregistered) and, especially in the 1990s, to make ‘social tourism’ in order to get social benefits in a receiving country. The biggest peculiarity of this period is pendular mobility, which reflects the movement of a swing. People, like on a swing, were pushed out from their homes in order to earn good money at the destination place and quickly pulled to their home places in order to spend money.

  • The third trend resolves the directions and thus migration tracks and relates to a shift from inter-continental to intra-continental migratory movements, namely within Europe [Cyrus, 2006]. In the 1990s the role of the USA had diminished, which was mostly caused by the restricted migration policy, diversification of migratory destinations within the European Union and the general political situation in the USA.

  • The fourth trend relates to diversification of migration directions within Europe, meaning within the European Union and the European Economic Area. During the communist period Polish people left Poland mostly for Germany, the United States and Canada.

  • The key hypotheses of this paper are:

1. New destinations are replacing old destinations (Germany has not predominated for the first time in the contemporary history of migration from Poland), yet with the proportional representations shifting (the United Kingdom and Ireland gaining).

2. The enlargement of the European Union in 2004 initiated the largest single wave of in-migration with Poles as the largest single national group of entrants that the British Isles have ever experienced.

  • 1 Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia.

3. Putting free movements of workers into practice with the biggest enlargement of the EU, which took place in May 1st 2004 by a group of countries (the UK, Ireland and Sweden) had helped to alleviate the scale of unregistered employment among EU 8 migrant workers1. Change is occurring mainly through the substitution of legal migration for illegal migration, with the young and the better-educated in the migration stream; and with those who migrate in the purpose of studying.

4. Workers from Poland who migrated to countries with unrestricted access to labour markets are more economically active, younger and better educated and less relying on migration networks than those on work permits in countries with restrictions.

Free/restricted movements regimes of the eu member states – An overview

5On the accession of eight Eastern and Central European countries (Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia) to the EU in May 2004, the free movement of people from the A8 states was subject to transitional arrangements to restrict migration. The other two accession countries, namely Malta and Cyprus were exempted from these measures. EU 15 ‘restored to a variety of different restrictions ranging from limitations depending on sector or type of work, through quota arrangements, to work permits granted only when a national cannot be found to fill the vacancy’ [Traser, 2005, p. 6] applicable for period 2009 (up to 2011 in exceptional circumstances; 2+3+2 model). All EU 15 member states with exception of the UK, Ireland and Sweden imposed in 2004 restrictions on labor migration. The UK and Ireland opened their labour markets but restricted the access to welfare benefits; only Sweden offered A8 totally free movement regime: free access to labour market and welfare benefits [Stenning et al., 2006].

6The next group of countries, namely Spain, Portugal, Greece, Finland, Iceland (EEA), and Italy followed free movement regime in the access to labour market in May 2006. Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands decided in May 1st 2006 that restrictions will be alleviated gradually in the following three years. In September 2006, the Netherlands opened 16 sectors of its labour market to workers from the A8. Access to the labour market for workers from the new member states was also facilitated by Norway (EEA) and Switzerland (EEA). Austria and Germany decided to prolong restrictions to their labour markets for at least three additional years, and possibly until the end of transition period- 2011 at the latest. Germany however, continues to employ seasonal workers, mainly from Poland, in the agricultural and hospitality (hotels and restaurants) sectors [Kepinska, SOPEMI 2006].

Data sources on post-accession migration

7While analyzing migrations of the post-accession period, it is worth distinguishing and briefly describe the sources of data in order to avoid the methodological mistake of combining data on stock and flow (dynamics) of various sorts (the most common mistakes relate to the problem of combining administrative data with various public statistics or to relate data of case studies or Internet sources to general statistics). The only way to understand the portrait of post-accession migration is to make a constellation of data sources and treat them separately while remaining cautious of their origin and way of collection.

  • One of the most important sources of information on post-accession migrations are, apart from censuses (which are conducted very rarely, next round about 2010 in the EU countries), labour force surveys (LFS) of both sending and receiving countries. Administrative data, such as work permits, residence permits, identification and insurance numbers of the receiving countries, is only one part of the puzzle to the whole landscape of migration and cannot be compared and added to each other and to other sources of information on post-accession flows due to peculiarity of their systems of collections and aggregation. The difference between work permits data and registration data is crucial form the perspective of post-accession migration. Work permits, residence permits data inform us on the stock of migrants, while registration data, such as Personal Public Service Number in Ireland and Worker Registration Scheme in the United Kingdom inform us on dynamics of flow of migrants. Primary data sources of research institutions, may only deepen the analysis of certain case studies. But public opinion surveys may capture only the gist of migration process at the level of declarations of respondents.

  • In order to conceive the portrait of post-accession migration from Poland, the article presents the combination of data sources: from Polish Censuses and Labour Force Survey (BAEL) to Labour Force Surveys and administrative data (registration data) of countries receiving migrants from Poland

Post-accession migration from Poland – a portrait

8The portrait of post-accession migration from Poland is a mélange of continuity and change. The portfolio of countries receiving migrant workers from Poland is somehow revised after the biggest enlargement of the EU, which took place in May 2004.

9Migration from Poland has been increasing continuously since the end of the 1990s. The upward trend accelerated with the accession of Poland to the EU on May 1st 2004. Polish Labour Force Survey data reveal that in the third quarter of 2006, approximately 438.000 Poles stayed abroad for more than two months, about 128.000 more than in the analogical period of 2005. Most of these people migrated to get work (92 per cent in the third quarter of 2006), and they seem to be younger and better educated than the pre-accession migrants. Short-term movements continue to predominate, but recent data suggest that long-term migration is more and more important. Migration to the United Kingdom and to Ireland recorded the largest increases and dynamics. Despite labor market restrictions in the access to the labour markets for citizens of A8 Germany is still important destination [Kepinska, SOPEMI 2007]. Seasonal migration from Poland to Germany persists as a major migratory outflow - in first three quarters of 2005 approximately 305,000 contracts were issued for seasonal jobs in Germany, as compared to 307,000 in 2004 as a whole, and 292,000 in 2003 [Kepinska, SOPEMI, 2005].

Destinations of Migrants from Poland - What the Polish Data Revealed

10Polish Labor Force Survey data revealed that, similarly to 2005, the United Kingdom and Ireland registered the largest upward and the largest dynamics of migratory movements from Poland in the second and the third quarters of 2006 (table 2 and chart 2). In the Q2 of 2006 the number of migrants to these two countries increased in comparison with the second quarter of 2005 by 133% and 93%, respectively. In the Q3 of 2006 the respective increases were 112% and 117%. As a result, the number of migrants to the United Kingdom reached 121,000 in the Q2 and 146,000 in the third quarter of 2006, while there were 29,000 migrants to Ireland in the Q2 of 2006, and 39,000 in the Q3 of 2006.

Table 2. The distribution of the major countries of destination for migrants from Poland in the second quarter of 2000-2006









of which

100 %

100 %

100 %

100 %

100 %

100 %

100 %

United Kingdom

4 %

7 %

7 %

9 %

11 %

20 %

31 %


35 %

37 %

34 %

31 %

29 %

25 %

20 %


19 %

23 %

19 %

20 %

19 %

11 %

11 %


6 %

8 %

14 %

13 %

11 %

12 %

8 %


0 %

0 %

0 %

0 %

3 %

6 %

7 %


2 %

4 %

5 %

4 %

3 %

2 %

3 %


0 %

2 %

3 %

4 %

4 %

5 %

3 %

Source: Kepinska 2006, based on Labor Force Survey (BAEL)

11Germany seems to have lost its leading destination position in terms of migratory movement of the Polish people in the third quarter of 2005 when, for the first time, there were more migrants gravitated to the United Kingdom than to Germany. Table 2 shows that the proportion of migrants to Germany decreased in the second quarter of 2006 to 20%, from 25% in the second quarter of 2005, and in the third quarter of 2006 - 18%, as compared to 22% in the corresponding quarter of 2005 - the stock of migrants in Germany increased slightly, from 67,000 in the second quarter of 2005 to 79,000 in the second quarter of 2006. In the second quarter of 2006, migration from Poland to Austria had also increased (by 33%), the Netherlands (by 100%), and the United States (by 37%). Italy, Spain, France got lower interests of Poles in Q3 2004 than in the previous periods. However in the third quarter of 2006 Sweden recorded increases, which may reflect another kind of migration to Sweden, which is supposed to be short-term and of seasonal character. One can assume, the decline in the numbers of migrants to Italy is due to the outrage about work camps for Poles in Italy. Still migration stream from Poland is feminized, Polish women, who comprised 72% - 77% of all migrants to Italy in the second and third quarters of 2006, and who usually work in the domestic and health care sectors, reported an increase in the second quarter of 2006 in comparison with the corresponding quarter of 2005 (mostly so in the long-term outflow), and their number remained stable in the third quarter of 2006 in comparison with the corresponding quarter of 2005. Given that Italy has been a popular destination for migrants from Poland long before the opening of its labour market to workers from the A-8 countries, it is not unreasonable to expect that the numbers of migrants to Italy will fail to decline. [Kepinska, SOPEMI 2006].

New dynamics of migrations from Poland - Perspectives of the receiving countries

12Migrations from Poland after May 1st 2004 distinguish diversified dynamics of flow (not stock), pending on the receiving country. There is a visible shift of migrations from old to new immigration countries with the first one loosing (Germany) and the second ones gaining (UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands). These trends are proved in the administrative data of the receiving countries of the Polish migrants (Chart 1).

13Although the upward sloping of flow is an experience of almost every ‘new’ receiving country, the unprecedented growth of intensity of flow of migrants from Poland is manifested, after accession, mainly in the British Isles: the Great Britain and Ireland, which also relates to its seasonality of flows: shifts in summer and drops in the Christmas time.

Chart 1. Dynamics of migration from Poland after May 1st 2004 – Selected countries

Chart 1. Dynamics of migration from Poland after May 1st 2004 – Selected countries

Source: Own presentations based on Grabowska-Lusinka & Okolski 2008

Strategies of Polish people in the main receiving countries as hidden in the data sources of the receiving countries2

  • 2 Strategies have been initially discussed in the pre-publication series in Grabowska-Lusinska & Okol (...)

14The analysis of global strategies is worth starting with typology of migrants from Poland [Eadge, Drinkwater, Garapich, 2006] and their individual strategies. The superior strategy seems to be that of the ‘intentional unpredictability’ [Okolski, 2007 follows Eadge, Drinkwater, Garapich, 2006], explicitly meaning keeping each option open until other convenient perspective won’t appear (initiating migration, continuing migration, going up into ranks, inter-sectoral mobility, and return migration). This strategy, impossible to be applied in the pre-accession period due to labor market restrictions in place, is the post-accession phenomena. The strategy is also a cliché of free movement of labour within the EU and non-self constraining feelings of migrants. The dynamics of flow to the British Isles also mirror the strategy of intentional unpredictability, which often relates to the ‘on spec’, wait and see.

15Three other strategies implied [Okolski, 2007]: seasonal movements (resembles Piore’s birds of passage and was named as that of “storks”); one time migration with a robust intention of return and resettlement in Poland upon saving enough money to successfully invest there (named as “hamster’s” strategy); a strong intention to settle down in Britain and make a career and follow the pattern of natives (“stayer’s strategy”).

16Enumerated strategies may be a good point to analysis of global strategies – as hidden behind the statistics of the receiving countries. One may identify a lot of peculiarities in the data sources on the Polish migrants such as: sectoral strategy and Polish migration dense sectors; strategy of delayed spatial dispersion, strategy of latent depreciation of qualifications, ‘greedy for work’ strategy and family strategy.

Sectoral Srategy and ‘Polish Migration Dense Sectors’

17Post-accession sectoral allocations of migrants from Poland are circumstanced with constellation of both micro and macro factors such as: regulations/ deregulations in the access to the labor market/ sector, gender, nationality and migration networks. These determinants may favor migration density of Polish people in the certain sectors, which may, in some cases, also caused the ethnic concentration.

18One may assume that post-accession deregulations in the access to the labour market in selected countries might enhance sectoral de-concentration, which is not the post-accession case. In countries with unrestricted access to labour market, there is a small shift from agriculture to other sectors (e.g. Ireland) and new migration density in construction (e.g. Ireland and the Great Britain).

19There is also misleading motion on sectoral allocation in the Great Britain as visible in the data of the post-accession register ‘Worker Registration Scheme’ that Polish people are predominately employed in ‘Administration, business and management’ sector (Table 3).

Table 3. Sectoral allocation of migrants from EU 8 (%) in WRS, May- December 2006


Czech Republic








All “A8” countries

Admin, Business & Management Services










Hospitality & Catering






























Food/Fish/Meat processing










Health & Medical Services










Retail & Related Services










Construction & Land Services




















Entertainment & Leisure










Total Top Ten










Total – Other Occupations / Not Stated




















Source : Home Office 2007.

20The other source of public statistics, Labour Force Survey, shows different sectoral allocation of Polish people in the Great Britain (Table 4).

Table 4. Total numbers and percentage of Polish people employed in the Great Britain according to sectors and gender

Sectors according to classification of 2003

Number of employed

 % of employed


45 :Construction

20 057


55 :Hotels and restaurants

11 417


63:Assisting in transports and travel offices

10 050


15:Production of ford and beverages

8 629


74 : Other

6 920



105 170



55 : Hotels and restaurants

10 105


74 : Other

9 445


85 :Heath and social services

9 002



71 507


Source : Fihel, Pietka 2007 based on Labour Force Survey.

21Why is there a discrepancy between the two sources of data? First of all, it relates to peculiarities of these two sources and secondly to the driving force allocating migrant workers in the certain sector. It has been recently discovered that recruitment agencies are pushing down migrants from Poland to sector “Administration, business and management”, even though the people are employed in agriculture or production sector but doing some administrative jobs.

22Cases of sectoral allocations of migrants from Poland in: Spain, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands sustain the pre-accession status quo.

Strategy of delayed spatial dispersion

23Spatial allocation of Polish migrants in the receiving countries makes another important dimension for scientific inquiry of mobility: its change or status quo. The change of spatial allocations of migrants from Poland has been mostly an experience of new receiving countries and even less narrow category, those with the highest dynamics of inflow from Poland, namely the Great Britain and Ireland. This means countries with newly established migration networks. The status quo relates to countries with well established migrants’ networks apart from the level of deregulations in the access to the labour market.

24In those countries which have been experiencing the highest dynamics of inflow of Polish people since May 1st 2004, there may be visible an effect of delayed spatial dispersion of migration stream of the Polish people. At the initial post-accession period people mostly gravitated to metropolises, capitals and latter on, around mid-2005, have started dispersing spatially: initially to the suburbs of capital cities, then to further peripheries and finally started reaching the distant, entirely new, from Polish migration perspective, locations (such as e.g. Scotland in the UK and County Mayo in Ireland). The dispersion is much quicker and more intense in Great Britain, Ireland may experience some delayed trend and the country is more spatially diverged, which may consist stronger and well-established gravitation to the capital city (Map 1).

25Countries with well established networks both formal and informal such as: Spain, Italy, the Netherlands of new immigration countries and Germany of old immigration country, may sustain the pre-accession patterns of spatial allocations with one note that in Southern Europe there is strong density around and in big cities, even capitals and in Germany the Polish migrants are spatially allocated in more sustainable way across countryside.

26The spatial allocation of Polish people is also strongly connected with sectoral allocation, making migration geography more interesting. The phenomenon has been, until now, explored only in the Great Britain [Bauere, Densham, Millar, Salt, 2007], saying that there are localities with Polish dense sectors and localities with other EU 8 dense sectors, which means that certain sectors are occupied by Lithuanian and Polish people search for another sectors to and localities to be occupied (the rule is reciprocal and relates also to other nationalities of the EU8).

Map 1. Pre- and post-accession dispersion of Polish people in UK and Ireland

Map 1. Pre- and post-accession dispersion of Polish people in UK and Ireland

Source: Own presentations based on various source

Strategy of latent depreciation of qualifications

27The third global strategy of migrants from Poland constitutes the ‘strategy of latent depreciation of qualifications’, which is mostly exercised in those countries, who relaxed the access to the labour markets (with earlier applications of work permits in force).

28The pre-accession employment of, among others, Polish people was more bi-polar: at the one extreme there were those who were employed in the high skilled sectors, with wages far above average national wage, at the other end were those of low skilled sectors, earning close to national minimum wage [Green, Jones, Owen, 2007]. The post-accession landscape of the labour market of Poles implied the whole spectrum of jobs to be furnished: from high skilled well paid jobs to extreme low skilled, badly paid, secondary sector jobs. What happened after enlargement of May 1st 2004? Big numbers of migrants from Poland, mostly quite well educated, have started strongly gravitating to low skilled sectors (mostly in the UK and Ireland).

29The key determinants of this process seem to be: language (proper command in order to utilize formal skills), the access to certain labor markets and sectors and the structure of demand in the certain receiving countries. This strategy implies, as mentioned above, intentional unpredictability. This means that even those who have formal high educational attainment are unable to take up job according to formal skills because often they do not have proper English language command and they are coming without any preparations to migrations (pre-arranged employment), they want to find employment and accommodation very quickly, without problems. Non-problematic ad hoc employment is in many cases possible only in low skilled job.

30The process is mirrored in the British data of Labour Force Survey, employment of Polish people. The post-accession pattern as compared to the pre-accession one shows that majority of the Polish people who came to the UK after May 1st 2004 take low skill jobs. A majority of those who arrived in the UK before accession were located at the managerial and medium level positions, while after accession more than 70 per cent have starting taking up semi- or non-skilled jobs (Chart 2).

Chart 2. The structure of qualification of the polish people in the Great-Britain, Various period in comparison

Chart 2. The structure of qualification of the polish people in the Great-Britain, Various period in comparison

Source: Drinkwater, Eadge, Garapich 2006 based on LFS

31The level of wages is also connected to the strategy of latent depreciation of skills. Table 5 shows that post-accession migrants are similar or even better educated, they work more and they are paid less.

Table 5. Selected characteristics of Polish migrants in the UK according to time of their arrival, 2006

Characteristics of migrants and their jobs



Post- 2004

Average number of years of education




Average number of working hours (weekly)




Average remuneration (₤ per hour)




Source: Drinkwater, Eadge, Garapich 2006 based on LFS.

32It is worth noting that strategy of ‘latent depreciation of skills’ is latent at various levels: the first one may relate to an employer who often employs people without realizing their skills, often in demand in his/her company; the second level relates to a migrant who having easy access to low skilled jobs upon arrival, taking these jobs without initial doubts, planning quick upward occupational mobility, sticks to these jobs for a long time and at some stage may activate the need for appreciation of skills but mostly in the sending country.

  • There is very little evidence that after enlargement some migrants left the grey economy, finding legal jobs. Home Office (2006) estimates that about 30 per cent of pre-accession migrants had changed their status from unregistered to legal status. This means appreciation of status and in many cases was enough not to appreciate skills, which again may imply latent depreciation of qualifications.

‘Greedy for work’ strategy

33Migrations form Poland after May 1st 2004 are mostly those connected to employment. However there is a slight difference between those migrations to old and new destination countries and those new with high and medium dynamics of inflow. Looking into the data on economic activity of Polish people in the receiving countries, one may identify the ‘greedy for work strategy’.

34The data shows that Polish people are more economically active after enlargement (Table 6). The rates of economic activities are the highest in the UK and Ireland at the level of 87 per cent, while at the same time in Germany at the level of 66 per cent. The situation is also mirrored in the unemployment rates in 2006: 4.75 per cent in the UK, 4.2 per cent in Ireland and 18 per cent in Germany. This means that migrants may follow patterns of economic activities of the natives.

Table 6. Economic activity of Polish-born men and women (aged 16 and above) and period of migration, UK 2006 (percent of migrants aged 16 and over by time period)

Economic activity

Males pre-2004

Males 2004 onwards

All males

Females pre-2004

Females 2004 onwards

All females

In employment







ILO unemployed







Economically Active














Aged 16 and over







Source: Labour Force Survey, quarters 1 to 4 for 2006 averaged. A dash indicates numbers less than 6000.

‘Family’ strategy

35The last but not least strategy relates to the structure of households of migrants from Poland. The situation was best researched in the UK [Osipovič, 2007]. The dominant trends of new receiving countries relate to age, gender and marital status of immigrants from Poland. Post-accession migrants are mostly male, young and single, which is the change as compared to the pre-accession period (Table 7).

Table 7. Age and gender of Polish-born people living in the UK and period of immigration, 2006

Age group
(years of age)












































60/65 and over







All ages







Sex ratio


2004 onwards

All migrants

1000 females




Source: Osipovič 2007 based on Labour Force Survey, quarters 1 to 4 2006 averaged. A dash indicates a number under 6000.

36The one person family unit dominates in the UK, which also may confirm the implementation of strategy of ‘intentional unpredictability’. Post-accession phenomena relates to multi-unit households, meaning that in one household may live together, often of Polish nationality, one single male, married or cohabitating couple with children or without children and lone parent with dependent children. This may be a kind of a bend of migration network.

Table 8. Type of family unit by gender

Type of family unit




One- person FU

57.2 %

32.8 %

46.4 %

Married or


23.0 %

36.1 %

28.8 %

Married or
with dependant


17.1 %

25.4 %

20.8 %

Lone parent


1.3 %

3.3 %

2.2 %

Married or
with non-dependant



1.3 %

2.5 %

1.8 %







100.0 %

100.0 %

100.0 %

* aged 16 and over

Source: Osipovič 2007 based on 2005 Household LFS.

Table 9. Relationship to a household reference person by gender




Household reference person

41.1 %

20.4 %

31.5 %

Spouse or cohabite

4.9 %

37.3 %

19.9 %

Relationship to HRP

Child or step-child

7.3 %

10.6 %

8.8 %

Other relation

6.7 %

5.1 %

5.8 %

Other non-relative

39.9 %

26.8 %

33.8 %







100.0 %

100.0 %

100.0 %

Source: Osipovič 2007 based on 2005 Household LFS, own calculation.

37In Ireland singles also predominates in the marital structure of immigrants from Poland (62 per cent): 59 per cent of males and 67 per cent of females [Census 2006]. In the Netherlands the number of share of singles systematically increasing since 1996.

38The marital situation of singularity of migrants may imply return migration strategies.


39Migrations from Poland after May 1st 2004 is a peculiar and complex phenomena circumstanced by a constellation of factors.

40Poland’s accession to the EU seems to imply a radical change in the dynamics of flow from Poland and diversifications of destinations. Countries such as the UK and Ireland seem to notify an unusual upward trend in terms of dynamics and the UK for the first time in the modern history of Poland has been the main receiving country for migration streams from Poland.

41Before the accession seasonal migrations predominated, post-accession is characterized as more permanent, periodical migrations (mainly since 2005/2006).

42Global strategies as hidden behind the data sources of the receiving countries may explain the process of post-accession migrations from Poland.

43‘Sectoral strategy’ is the space for analysis of sectoral allocations and comparison of pre- and post accession Polish migration dense sectors in the receiving countries.

44‘Strategy of delayed spatial dispersion’ of the Polish migrants in the receiving countries relates to the spatial allocations of migrants from Poland and their changes upon enlargement. This strategy makes the space for analysis of sequential dispersion of migrants from Poland: initially from metropolis to their suburbs, further to the peripheries and finally to distant locations of a receiving country. The strategy is very well tested especially in the UK and to a lesser extent in Ireland, namely – new immigration countries for Poles who started establishing new migration networks there. In the case of old receiving countries the pre-accession or pre-deregulation status quo is sustained (Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland).

45‘Strategy of latent depreciation of skills’ relates to the process of de-skilling of the Polish migrants, bearing in mind the high level of their formal qualifications. The strategy takes into account the phenomenon of gravitation to low skilled sectors by migrants with almost each level of education. This is strongly connected to on the one hand low level of English command enough to utilize the qualifications in the workplace and on the other to the expectations of migrants of getting job offers upon arrival, high level of job openings and easy access to certain sectors. All these factors may imply the latent depreciation of skills by migrants themselves and/ or by their employers (waste of skills).

46‘Greedy for work strategy’ relates to the dominant type of emigration from Poland after May 1st 2004, namely job migration.

47‘Family’ strategy relates to the structure of household of Polish migrants. It is testified that singles predominate in the migration streams from Poland after May 1st 2004 (1/3 of those in the UK and 60 per cent in Ireland). The phenomena of this strategy relates to the multi-unit of households, mostly constituted by the Polish nationals, not family related to each other, which may show the bends of migration networks.

48The results of presented research on migrations from Poland after May 1st 2004 may open the research range for further in-depth analysis of changes of the international mobility of labour.

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1 Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Slovak Republic, Slovenia.

2 Strategies have been initially discussed in the pre-publication series in Grabowska-Lusinska & Okolski (2008).

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Table des illustrations

Titre Chart 1. Dynamics of migration from Poland after May 1st 2004 – Selected countries
Crédits Source: Own presentations based on Grabowska-Lusinka & Okolski 2008
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,6M
Titre Map 1. Pre- and post-accession dispersion of Polish people in UK and Ireland
Crédits Source: Own presentations based on various source
Fichier image/jpeg, 1008k
Titre Chart 2. The structure of qualification of the polish people in the Great-Britain, Various period in comparison
Crédits Source: Drinkwater, Eadge, Garapich 2006 based on LFS
Fichier image/jpeg, 772k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Izabela Grabowska-Lusinska, « Migrations from Poland after 1 May 2004 with Special Focus on British Isles », Espace populations sociétés, 2008/2 | 2008, 247-260.

Référence électronique

Izabela Grabowska-Lusinska, « Migrations from Poland after 1 May 2004 with Special Focus on British Isles », Espace populations sociétés [En ligne], 2008/2 | 2008, mis en ligne le 01 septembre 2010, consulté le 28 mars 2017. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/eps.2538

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Izabela Grabowska-Lusinska

Osrodek Badan nad Migracjami / Centre for Migration Research
Wydzial Nauk Ekonomicznych: Faculty of Economic Sciences
Uniwersytet Warszawski / Warsaw University
ul. Banacha 2B, 02-097 Warszawa

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Licence Creative Commons
Espace Populations Sociétés est mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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