In ten years since the accession to the European Union, Polish emigrants have sent over 234 bln PLN to the country. Since 2010, the annual value of transfers oscillates around 22 bln PLN. Together with the economic growth, this means that the impact of emigrants’ money has less impact on consumption spending as a whole. However, this is not a cause for worry – unlike the emigration of entire families.
In 2007, Poles working abroad sent their families almost 29 bln PLN, equivalent to 2.5 percent of GDP at that time. Starting in 2009, transfer values calculated in dollars have decreased significantly, which was a result of a deep recession in Western Europe, including Great Britain and Ireland.
Short-term the influx of money from emigrants contributed to increased demand in Central and Eastern European economies. However, one cannot conclude that euros and pounds sent by Poles abroad stabilized the economy in Poland and other countries of the region.
As evidenced by empirical research, the short- and long-term impact of such transfers – supporting disposable income – cannot be an important GDP growth factor, as their contribution to investments is meager. A restricted positive influence is possible, if some of the money is used eg. to pay for education and thus has a positive impact of human capital accumulation.
The so-called substitution effect may even have a negative influence on the economy. The effect consists in the fact that families who receive transfers from abroad may be less motivated to get income for work, which may result in a decrease in job activity (or the number of working hours) In economic terms, this is the same mechanism which is in play when it comes to gratuitous unemployment benefits, healthcare benefits or pensions.
To sum it up, the decreased influx of money from emigrants in relation to GDP is not an important problem for Polish economy. The effects of many emigrants leaving permanently and with their families will be far more negative. This process has intensified in the last two years, which is visible in the increasing number of kids of Polish women born outside the country. If this tendency is not reversed, the risk that Poland fails to catch up with developed countries in terms of wealth will grow. The government has to finally acknowledge that the price for continued negligence may be a vicious circle for Polish economy: low GDP growth – emigration – stagnation – further emigration and so on.
Damian Olko, expert of the Research and Analysis Centre of Employers of Poland