Ukrainians seeking a better life in Poland

Ukraine is suffering from a persistent brain drain. Young, well-educated workers in particular are leaving the country, leaving behind the old, the unemployed and an overburdened social system. Neighbouring Poland is a particularly popular destination: in 2020 more than one million Ukrainians were registered as living there. Commentators discuss the reasons and look for ways out of this permanent Ukrainian crisis.

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Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

A vicious circle

Tygodnik Powszechny explains the social consequences of the emigration of young Ukrainians:

“What is a blessing for the Polish economy - the recruitment of workers who integrate easily - could have dramatic long-term consequences for the Ukrainian economy. According to 2020 estimates, even now, only 11 million Ukrainians declare some form of income, while 11 million declare none at all. ... Another 11 million are pensioners whose pensions are dependent on earned income. All three groups of citizens enjoy health care, education, infrastructure and so on, but the fact is that one wage earner effectively supports two people who don't work. ... With such an employment structure, in the long run the state is neither efficient nor up-to-date - and consequently not worth living in. And so the demographic trap snaps shut.” (UA) /

Take a look next door

Whereas Ukraine is hiking up taxes and duties for companies and workers, Poland is giving them tax privileges. This is not good for the Ukrainian economy, comments:

“In Poland the government has realised that for economic growth five to six million labour migrants are needed. ... Citizens of poorer states could also come to us from Central Asia and North Africa. But there are legal obstacles. If you want to hire a foreigner for a simple job such as caretaker, you have to pay him at least ten minimum wages. ... Our laws push migrants into a grey zone. ... We have the same problems as Poland with labour migration, but the solution is diametrically opposite. ... The country must change so that rather than leaving, people start coming back. ... Ukrainians must feel these changes in their wallets.”