Poland largest victim of brain drain in EU: report

Will Polish graduates continue to migrate to other EU countries in search of job and better life? Photo: pixabay

In 2017, nearly 580,000 highly educated Poles lived in another EU country, which is the highest total among the 28 EU member states, according to a report on the “brain drain” by the European Committee of the Regions.

In 2017, nearly 580,000 highly educated Poles lived in another EU country, which is the highest total among the 28 EU member states, according to a report on the “brain drain” by the European Committee of the Regions.

As noted in the document presented on Wednesday in Brussels, of the 17 million Europeans who changed their country of residence, one in four (around 4.2 million) had a tertiary (university) level of education. The share of highly skilled employees among migrants has been increasing regularly over the period 2014-2017. "In absolute terms, the highest number of highly educated movers in 2017 was from Poland (576,300 individuals), Germany (472,700), and Romania (467,500)," the report stated.

These movers favoured the northern parts of the EU (Sweden, Ireland, Estonia, Denmark, and several regions in the UK) and urban settings. The less attractive regions for highly educated movers appeared to be mostly located in Italy.

The authors of the document emphasised that in some regions of the European Union the free movement of workers has led to a significant out-migration of their highly educated workforce and, as a result, to the phenomenon of brain drain. In their opinion, this is due to the growing competition for talent and the limited capacity of the out-migration regions to create attractive conditions for these workers.

"Social and economic structural conditions of receiving regions are amongst the most relevant pull factors which determine the mobility of highly skilled workers," the authors of the report pointed out. In this context, the following factors were mentioned: economic growth, higher wages, robust social security, high per capita wealth, linguistic similarity, cultural similarity, easier access to the labour market and a well-established knowledge economy.

In regions with brain drain, mobility is exacerbated by negative labour market conditions, e.g. high unemployment and low salaries. Other 'push' factors include administrative barriers, economic depression and a bad political environment.

Among the negative effects of brain drain, the report listed: labour and skills shortage as well as fiscal consequences such as a reduction of tax income and those related to the market like reduced consumption, limited economic growth and lower productivity.

On the other hand, positive effects for the receiving regions include benefits such as an increase in innovation potential, economic growth, competitive advantage and the consumption of and demand for services (e.g. housing).

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