Is migration from Poland reaching a tipping point?

Globalisation has led to increased levels of population movement around the world. In Britain, levels of migration were the highest in history due to rapid migration from the new Eastern European EU member states. However, a report released by the Times last week has revealed that for the first time since they began arriving four years ago, more UK-based Poles are returning to Poland than entering Britain. Is the trend of EU migration into the UK going into reverse? The reasons contributing to this reversal are a weakened pound and tightening economy here in the UK whilst there has been a surge in the Polish economy. Poles represent a large amount of work registrations in the UK from the Eastern European EU accession states so this could have a significant effect on the UKeconomy. These latest figures may cause the ONS to revise their population forecasts, which are heavily influenced by migration predictions. If it continues, this trend is also likely to impact and reveal itself through changes in the labour market. As this BBC blog points out, if we are going to see an economic slowdown, then outward migration might soften the impact. As the demand for labour goes down, instead of unemployment going up, the supply of labour might be more balanced. In that sense, migration could be seen as a buffer that has softened the inflationary wage pressure of a boom, and which can now soften the labour market effect of a slowdown. The outflow of workers might have more negative consequences too. If migrants have held wage inflation down, an absence of migrants might drive it up, just at a time when there is a threat of inflationary expectations rising. Finally the return of EU migrants may also affect the housing market. At a time when house prices are falling, a reduction in migrant numbers might intensify the difficulties faced by buy-to-let investors, and the market as a whole.

We are running a seminar on the impact of migration next month where we will discussing the wide ranging impact that migration may have on whole sector in the future such as some of the issues above. More information or book a place

Last updated at 15:08 Mon 18/May/09.
AddThis Social Bookmark Button
View blog reactions

Recent comments


Dear Natalie,

This is a story of time and space.

Most “official” statistics operate on an annual cycle (April to March, normally), whilst migration flows operate on a three to four year cycle.

If we view the Polish flow from this perspective, then, in 2004 when full accession to the EU came into play, there would be an apparent rush of people from Poland. However, once the population had stabilised, it would become more of a cyclical flow.

The Times report merely states that we are now in the replacement phase of the cycle, which has a strong historical base.

Looking to the future, we can reasonably expect something similar when Romania and Bulgaria achieve full accession, and the same again should Turkey gain full accession to the EU.

I’m sorry I can’t make the seminar on migration, but I will be presenting a paper at the World Future Society conference on globalisation in July, if anyone is interested.

With best wishes,


Véronique's picture


Third Sector Foresight

I remembered seeing Natalie’s post quite a few months ago when I read last week media comments on the latest immigration figures published by the Office of National Statistics.

Andy Travis from the Guardian wrote in the article Immigration falls and set to decline further in recession: A decline in immigration is starting to accelerate as the recession bites, with a 36% fall in the number of Poles and other east Europeans coming to work in Britain recorded so far this year.

Apparently 59,000 Polish people and other east Europeans registered to work in Britain between July and September 2007, and only 38,000 over the same period this year. This is the lowest level since Poland joined the EU in 2004.

Join the discussion!

How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

Log in or join for free to comment.