By Chris | October 20, 2007
When Poland joined the European Union in 2004, the United Kingdom opened its borders to Polish immigrants. The New York Times reports on the impacts of this wave of immigrants. A few highlights:
- It’s estimated that Poles in Britain have an estimated combined disposable income of 4 billion dollars annually.
- Poles are thought of so highly that other Eastern Europeans pretend to be Polish to improve their employment chances.
- As economic conditions in Poland improve immigration is dropping and Britain is facing labor shortages.
I was also struck by the similarities between Polish and Mexican immigrants both in the type of jobs they typically fill (construction, nannies, agriculture etc.) and the concerns of natives about immigration (crime, overuse of public services etc.). While some economic literature finds that immigration from Mexico is a wash, I support more liberal immigration policies on humanitarian grounds alone. I can’t help but suspect that competition for workers encouraged Poland to enact market friendly reforms. Wouldn’t it be great if Mexico’s economy reached the point where the U.S. faced a shortage of workers in low-skilled industries? Maybe, a more lenient immigration policy is the first step in that direction.
Note: If you missed the Freakonomics interview with Philippe Legrain, I highly recommend you check it out.