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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  March 2015  /  Polish Emigration to the UK after 2004; Why Did So Many Come?

Polish Emigration to the UK after 2004; Why Did So Many Come?

“Right people, right place, and right circumstances”

Polish Emigration to the UK after 2004; Why Did So Many Come?

In a new paper in the Central and Eastern European Migration Review, Professor Marek Okólski (University of Warsaw) and Professor John Salt (UCL Geography) address the question of why so many Poles moved to the UK immediately before and after the country’s accession to the EU in 2004.

They put together statistical and other data from both ends of the flow, including detailed evidence from the 2011 UK census, to assess the scale of the largest ever voluntary migration between the two countries.

Polish statistics suggest a more ‘elite’ flow to the UK than to other countries. The UK data also picture a maturing, settled population which, although tending to occupy relatively lower skilled jobs, shows evidence of upward social mobility.

In general, the movements are a response to both demographic and economic factors in Poland and a widespread, but to some extent hidden, shortage of labour in some sectors in the UK.

The paper concludes that these factors, combined with political circumstances in both countries, may be summarised as, ‘right people, right place, and right circumstances’.

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Marek Okólski and John Salt


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