Demographic Changes in Europe in the 21st Century: Will Poland Become an Immigration State?
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Early in the 21st century the question of international migrations is growing in importance in Europe. That growth is caused by demographic changes affecting the population of the continent, particularly the ageing of the population, which can be understood in two diff erent ways. First of all, ageing means that the population lives longer: life expectancy at any age and in good health is growing. Ageing also means that the number of old people is growing, and that translates into changes in the structure of the population by age. Ageing is accompanied by low total and partial fertility rates, low live birth rates, and gross and net reproduction rates. The detailed analysis of those changes and their consequences in the regional and global scale was prepared as a result of UN and Eurostat long term population forecasts (in Poland the forecast was prepared by the Central Statistical Office – GUS). Poland stands apart when compared to the rest of Europe in terms of demographic changes. Its demographic situation is bad due to negative international migration rate, low total fertility rate (TFR, below the threshold of generation renewal) and ageing of the society. These changes influence Poland’s internal socio-economic situation. For almost ten years now in the scholarly journals, popular science magazines and media much thought has been given to emigration from Poland, while the other important subject, that of immigration, is not covered so well. At the same time the general demographic problems are accompanied by even more severe problems on the job market. Paradoxically, a state with a large number of economic immigrants and with a quite high unemployment rate (exceeding 10%) needs to import labour so that its economy could grow further. The aim of this paper is to present contemporary and forecast demographic situation of Poland with its most important socio-economic consequences. The description of demographic situation and its consequences will serve as a background for demonstrating the growing importance of international economic migrations for the future demographic potential of Poland. The paper also contains quantitative and qualitative analysis of immigration to Poland. The accession of Poland into the EU has increased the importance of international migration in shaping of Poland’s demographic situation. Poland is an emigration country, which at the same time is receiving large economic immigration from other states in Eastern Europe. The influx of migrants is possible thanks to the improving economic situation. As the demographic and economic situation changes, the importance of immigration from Eastern Europe will grow and the character of that immigration will change.
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