Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Mass migrations occurring in Europe

A thought provoking series of analyses of the prospects for economic growth in Eastern Europe has been posted over at demography.matters.blog which uses Poland's situation as a basis for a larger analysis. The posts include links to a number of primary data sources that contain a wealth of detail that would allow for more in-depth analysis.

The primary fact that caught my attention was a quote from the Financial Times which indicates that
"Poland has seen one of the largest peacetime migrations in history as about 1m people, many of them young, have moved west to find work, although there are no hard official numbers. There are estimated to be 250,000 Poles in Ireland, about 500,000 in Britain and more than 600,000 in Germany."
These emigrants are said to be primarily young college graduates. So Poland appears to be experiencing a classic "brain drain." The consequences of this are described in some detail; with the primary result being that Poland will have difficulty building up high-value industries due to the loss of the educated. One possible solution postulated by a commenter was that Poland could attract educated individuals from countries further east such as the Ukraine.

This sort of migration pattern and the resulting economic dislocations are in my view the inevitable result of the absorption of Poland and other eastern European countries into the EU and the application of the EU's regulations (and lack thereof) to flows of people and capital. In the long run, these changes will be beneficial to the EU as nationalism within the EU will break down as individuals' loyalty will shift to the EU and its institutions from their home states(nations). I think this process is analogous to the development of the USA as in its early days citizens in the US were more loyal to the individual states(Massachusetts, Virginia, and so forth); but as time went on and the federal government expanded its powers US citizens as a rule have come to see the federal Constitution and government institutions as a primary focus of loyalty and economic strength. As anyone familiar with US history can attest, this did not occur quickly or without significant stresses. However, the result is a country that is strong economically and militarily, with little internal armed conflict. Given the past history of countries in the EU, we can only hope that a similar outcome is in the cards for the EU.

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