THE ANALYSIS OF ECONOMIC INTEGRATION OF POLISH MIGRANTS IN IRISH RURAL AREAS IN THE PERIOD OF ECONOMIC PROSPERITY FROM 2004 TO 2007
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The purpose of this paper is to assess the level of economic integration of Polish national in rural Ireland and to analyse the non-economic determinants of this process in the context of the EU 2004 enlargement. The paper focuses on a micro level analysis of migrants’ economic integration and a macro level analysis of the Irish labour market impact on migrants’ integration during the period of economic prosperity between 2004 and 2007. It explores neoclassic economic theory, NELM theory as well as dual labour market theory and network theory to assess migrants’ integration with the labour market. The paper is based on the main findings of a research study conducted in 2007 in all four provinces of the Republic of Ireland. The study employed mixed methods, including: literature review, face-to-face and electronic surveys, elite interviews and a focus group discussion. The research findings revealed that Polish migrants in rural Ireland were a well-educated and highly motivated workforce and not the resource-poor from the most impoverished provinces of Poland as one might envisage. They were either employed or in education prior to migration. The choice of the migration destination was largely determined by the Polish migratory network and work opportunities in rural Ireland. Most of migrants indicated temporality of stay. Many factors influence the permanency of stay, not least the economic trends in both Ireland and Poland but also life opportunities and sense of life stability. Due to the high market demand for unskilled and semi-skilled workers, most of the respondents were employed but the research found ‘an occupational gap’ in the employment patterns and significant levels of underemployment among migrants. However, the Irish authorities did little to capitalise on this potential opportunity. Finally, the paper presents how work conditions, including nationality represented at work or language used at work impacted on integration. It is concluded that the ‘brain drain’ experienced in Poland was mirrored by a ‘brain waste’ in Ireland.
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