Poland: women and employed people more likely to emigrate due to unhappiness

2021 April 28

Unhappy individuals from unhappy households in Poland are more likely to think about migration abroad, but only women and already employed individuals are more likely to do so. A study conducted by Jan Brzozowski (Cracow University of Economics) and Nicola Coniglio (University of Bari) analyses the relationship between happiness and migration.

The study investigates:
1) The relationship between happiness and migration;
2) The gaps between intentions to migrate and actual migration. Researchers are comparing whether socio-demographic factors, such as age, gender, education, or employment status plays a role in intentions and actual migration;
3) The role of household member’s happiness on individuals’ migration intentions and actual migration.

Migration history in Poland

Poland has been exposed to migration trends since the 19th Century. The most recent migration wave in 2004-2007 made Poland the largest immigrant-sending country in the European Union (EU). At least 1 million Poles (4% of the total working-age population) emigrated abroad during this period. The majority of migrants were young people who haven‘t had experience in Polish labour market. This migration wave was mainly driven by large economic disparities between EU countries.

The recently published article analyses data from the Social Diagnosis project — a longitudinal household survey carried out in Poland every two years between 2000 and 2015. The survey includes detailed information on each household’s and individual members’ economic situation (e.g., income, savings) and non-economic situation (e.g., education, mental well-being, aspirations, cultural participation, etc.). Social Diagnosis project aimed to make a comprehensive analysis of Poles’ living conditions and quality of life.

Well-being and happiness – important drivers for migration

J. Brzozowski and N. Coniglio argue that while looking only at the economic drivers for migration, one could miss the complexity of factors that influence individuals’ decision to migrate, such as perceived quality of life, well-being and happiness. The study shows that unhappiness could be one of the factors for thoughts about migration, however, it does not necessarily result in the migration action:

“Our results show that unhappier individuals had a higher probability of declaring international migration intentions. Moreover, other household members’ unhappiness also mattered for individuals’ migration intention. Additionally, we find evidence that those who intended to migrate abroad were the least happy within a given household. Results are identical when using an alternative measure of subjective well-being (life satisfaction).”

About the study

The study “International Migration and the (Un)happiness Push: Evidence from Polish Longitudinal Data” is a part of Horizon 2020 project “Future Migration Scenarios for Europe”. The project focuses on understanding the patterns of migration at multiple levels, from the international over the national and regional to the local level. Find more information about the project here.