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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Economic turbulence and labour migrants' mobility intentions: Polish migrants in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany 2009-2016


Economists view earnings as a primary driver of migration, both actual and intended. However, studies on the relationship between migration intentions and earnings yield mixed results. We argue that earnings are an important factor, but that problems related to sample selection and the complexity of migration decision making obscure this importance. Nevertheless, periods of economic turbulence prompt people to reassess their economic situation and when a study is conducted after such economic shock, it surveys migrants who had enough time to revise their mobility intentions but who had not already moved. We used data on remain/move intentions of Polish labour migrants to the UK, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands in 2009-2016. This was a period of high economic turbulence in the four host countries (Global Financial Crisis, the Euro crises and the Brexit referendum) paralleled by a period of steady improvement for the Polish economy. We applied multinomial logistic regression to probe the Polish migrants' return/settlement intentions, our results show that, in general, higher earnings encourage settlement intentions. However, as expected, this influence tends to fade away from view in times of economic calm but gains in importance when unexpected shocks force migrants to re-evaluate their plans.

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Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

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