Why young Poles are leaving Poland

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The flipside to the Polish influx of recent years is the exodus of the young and educated from Poland itself

On the streets of Wroclaw and other Polish cities, the young are dwindling

Given how close our links with Poland are getting, this is a timely article:

Polish women living in Britain have on average more children than their young compatriots back in their home country. When the largest Polish daily Gazeta Wyborcza broke this story a few months ago, it was a huge – but not entirely unexpected – surprise.

A lot of comments reflected a deep chasm between the Polish public discourse and our social reality. The "west" was supposed to be liberal, even libertine, and because of that very dangerous and corrupting place for young people. But children? They don't fit this narrative. Every few weeks, some conservative politician sounds the alarm about the disastrous demographic situation of the nation. Polish women have only 1.23 children on average: this is very bad news for the future of the country.

The explanations offered for the low birth rate have largely been ideological. It has been blamed on the young generation's hedonism, permissive and oversexualised popular culture, and their lack of patriotism. So when it turned out that the real reasons might be much more prosaic – substandard social services, poor and often unavailable medical care, lack of jobs for parents and nurseries for children, expensive housing – the commentariat was uncomfortable. Suddenly, the fact that UK-based Polish women had more children than immigrants from Bangladesh was an example of dismal failure of social policy at home.

The uncomfortable truth is that the most educated generation in Poland's history – almost half of 25-year-olds are university graduates – has to make do with a terrible job market. This is not solely due to the global economic crisis: Poland only experienced a period of slower growth, not GDP decline. Despite this, the future for most young Poles is far from bright – the nation that paid a lot to educate them does not need them on the job market, and has no idea what to do with them: the official unemployment rate for university graduates hovers around 20%. Those who manage to get a job are equally frustrated – they feel they are working below their qualifications, often in "McJobs" with no career path, and very often have to earn a large part of their salary unofficially to avoid taxes – which makes, for example, getting a mortgage difficult. There is virtually no job security; employers feel it is a buyers' market and think they can always find a better (read: more "malleable") employee. They are slow to hire, and eager to fire...

When will the British Disapora begin to migrate? There's a lot of young people and not enough jobs or even university places any more.

[Source: The Guardian]

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