The impact of wealth formation by economic migrants on their mobility and integration: Polish migrants in countries of the European Community and Australia


It is increasingly apparent that international migration will remain as ubiquitous this century as it has been for the past two hundred years. Given its potentially massive scale, destination countries are slowly reverting to more selective and discriminatory migrant admission and settlement procedures such as those long applied by immigrant states such as Australia or Canada. International migrants who bring with them significant human capital endowments (education, skills) and other capital assets are in general demand everywhere, while inflows of poor, unskilled labourers from developing countries are viewed as the unwelcome aspect of globalisation that should be controlled and contained. To be internationally mobile and unimpeded by border and settlement restrictions, potential migrants must increase their “net worth” by acquiring capital assets, human capital in particular. Thus, migration per se is a form of complementary investment necessary to realise the full economic and social potential of mobile capital endowments that move with migrants. It also allows migrants to acquire new capital assets at destination and access the host’s social and public capital.

However, the nexus between wealth formation by potentially mobile economic agents and their mobility, settlement and integration decisions is poorly understood. There are significant gaps in this respect in the extant migration literature, particularly there is no adequate conceptual framework integrating migration into economic wealth building processes and there is a paucity of factual evidence on migrant wealth-building activities. The present two-year study aims to bridge this gap by incorporating migration-related decision-making into an all-of-assets framework of wealth building and management by economic agents: the eclectic (economic) theory of migration. The study aims to make a significant contribution to knowledge by revisiting the theoretical foundations of migrant choices concerning mobility, settlement, labour participation and integration into host communities in the context of migrant wealth building and wealth management activities. It will also have significant policy implications migrant admission, settlement and integration policies in the European Union.

The study will involve the statistical/econometric analysis of quantitative data drawn from surveys of Polish migrants in the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany commissioned by the National Bank of Poland, as well as the Labour Force Surveys from Poland, and other published data sources from the above four EU countries and Australia. The latter has been added as a country of immigration that has been both proactive and selective in its migration policies. Australia has long been a destination for Polish migrants an, thus, provides a useful benchmark for comparisons of migration paths and activities of Polish migrants to the EU. To deepen the quantitative research, the study will also collect and analyse the qualitative data drawn from in-depth interviews of Polish migrants in the targeted countries.


2016 - 2018

Source of funding

National Science Center (OPUS 10)