Narodowy Bank Polski


Publications about migration inflows and outflows

Migration flows are an important factor that influences Polish economy. Selected reports from the surveys carried out by the National Bank of Poland are presented below.

[2022-07-29] The living and economic situation of Ukrainian refugees in Poland.

The outbreak of war in Ukraine on 24 February 2022 resulted in an unexpected and sudden in-flow of war refugees. Poland is the country where the largest number of refugees stayed and will continue to stay. In order to determine who the immigrants are, what their needs are, what their plans are and what their future might be in the Polish labour market, in April and May this year Narodowy Bank Polski conducted a survey among Ukrainian citizens who arrived in Poland as refugees after the outbreak of war. The results of this survey, presented in more detail later in this report, indicate that:

  • Refugees arriving in Poland represented all regions of Ukraine; however, an above-average number of people came from war zones relatively well interconnected with Poland (Kyiv region and the surrounding area). Approximately 13% of refugees entered Poland across a border other than the border with Ukraine.
  • At the end of April and the beginning of May, approximately 1.5 million refugees from Ukraine were staying in Poland.
  • Refugees from Ukraine are mainly women, more than 60% of whom arrived together with their children, usually with one or two. Almost 24% of the women arrived alone and these are mainly women under 29 and over 60.
  • 50% of refugees have a university degree, which significantly exceeds the share of people with a university degree in the Ukrainian population as a whole. Therefore, one of the challenges we face is to help them find a satisfactory job.
  • Refugees from Ukraine are very active on the labour market – about 30% of them have al-ready worked or had a job arranged, and approximately 50% of them are searching for a job, very often on a part-time basis due to taking care of children.
  • Despite the high levels of earlier labour migration to Poland, more than 50% of the refugees who currently reside in Poland have not previously been to Poland or had contact with people who visited our country. A considerable part of the refugees (46%) did not speak Polish.
  • In terms of potential integration of refugees in Polish society and in the labour market, the situation may be particularly difficult in regions of Poland where a relatively large number of refugees without previous contact with our country and language arrived (e.g. Świętokrzyskie, Podlaskie and Warmińsko-Mazurskie Voivodeships).
  • The main form of assistance indicated by the refugees was providing them with accommodation, where, in addition to the government, local authorities and Polish families, they are also supported considerably by compatriots already living in Poland. The results of the sur-vey indicate that about one-third of the refugees paid for rent with their own funds.
  • A relatively large group of refugees declared that they did not benefit from assistance other than accommodation (43%). Around one-third of the refugees also had means of subsistence for more than three months.
  • Among the assistance measures that would make it easier for them to continue their stay in Poland, refugees mainly mentioned the organisation of Polish language courses, assistance in finding a job quickly and aid in gaining access to health care.
  • Approximately 30% of refugees residing in Poland provide in-kind or financial assistance to family or humanitarian organisations in Ukraine. This is particularly common among refu-gees who have a job (44%).
  • In questions related to their possible further stay in Poland, two-thirds of refugees declare that their stay in Poland is temporary (less than a year). Men and young people are most interested in staying permanently in Poland. Women, especially single women with children, are much more likely to think about returning to Ukraine. In the event of a rapid end of the war, some of those who were considering a longer stay in Poland would most likely revise their plans and return to the country much sooner.
  • The desire to return to Ukraine within a year is also more often declared by people with a university degree who may find it difficult to find a rewarding job in Poland in their profession which ensures the ability to support themselves and their family. People working in the healthcare sector in Ukraine are more likely to consider staying in Poland permanently, while those previously involved in agriculture are less likely to do so. Obviously, people who already have a job are more likely to think about staying in Poland than those who are still searching for a job.
  • For refugees, not only financial independence is of great importance, but generally the possibility to become independent quickly in Poland, also understood as the ability to rent an independent dwelling. This could be difficult, considering current rental prices and the lack of an adequate pool of rental housing especially in large cities.
  • A small percentage of refugees – only approx. 5% – want to leave Poland to live in another country. It seems that those who had such an intention had already fulfilled it before the survey started (April/May 2022). Currently, such declarations are often made by people who left Ukraine alone. It is also common for people who used to work in the IT sector in Ukraine to think about moving further west. The interviewers met a relatively high number of people in Rzeszów who were planning to continue their travel, which may suggest that those willing to continue their travel to the West had already precise plans for further travel upon entering Poland.

[2019-10-17] Information from surveys of immigrants in Bydgoszcz and Wrocław in 2018 and 2019

The report presents the results of the survey among immigrants from Ukraine carried out in two Polish cities: Wrocław and Bydgoszcz at the end of the year 2018 beginning of 2019. It provides, among others, information on the conditions for stabilizing the stay of immigrants in Poland.

Main conclusions:

  • The significant the pay gap between Ukrainian and Polish labour market remains as the main motive of migration, but much less significant than in 2014-2016 is the lack of work in Ukraine, which reflects the improving situation on the labour market of our neighbour.
  • Circular migration based on work in Poland and frequent, temporary returns to Ukraine is the main immigration strategy among employees from Ukraine. Such pattern of migration is very often not a choice but a compulsion related to the relative ease of obtaining visas for a short stay compared to long-stay visas.
  • Immigrants are increasingly interested in obtaining the right to stabilize their stay in Poland, as evidenced by their declarations and changes in the structure of visas held over time. At the same time, the difficulties in obtaining the long-stay visa is the most common problem that immigrants complain about.
  • The profile of people coming to Poland is changing rapidly compared to the early years of migration. Recently immigrants come much more often from central and eastern Ukraine and from medium and large cities. The decision to migrate is also made by younger persons without previous experiences with work in Poland. This is due to the attractiveness of the Polish labour market, but also to the growing importance of migration networks in Poland and the activity of employment agencies.
  • The share of people declaring plans to travel abroad in two years ranged from 15% in Wrocław to 27% in Bydgoszcz. Of those interested in further migration, around 60% declared that Germany would be the destination country. On the other hand, only slightly more than 10% of immigrants imagine that in five years they will live in a country other than Poland or Ukraine. The declared willingness to emigrate further decreases along with the length of stay in Poland. It is also influenced by the specificity of the region.
  • Compared to previous studies, the differences between hourly wages of Polish and Ukrainian employees are smaller. In 2018, the average hourly wages of immigrants were about 20% lower than Poles, of which around 8-12pp. could be explained by inferior qualifications and occupations in which immigrants work.
  • The frequency and volume of remittances depends on the situation of immigrants. The majority of immigrants (approx. 55%) transferred money to Ukraine.

[2019-07-25] Polish citizens working abroad in 2018. Report of the survey

This report presents selected results of questionnaire surveys of emigrants from Poland in Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands and Norway carried out in November and December 2018 for the needs of NBP.

The next round of the bi-annual survey of the Polish emigrants abroad provides the information about the labour force status of the Polish emigrants on the foreign labour markets, motivations influencing their stay abroad and remittances. In 2018 there are two special topics. The first is the perception of Great Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) by the Polish immigrants in this country. The second is the characteristics of the Polish emigrants in Norway – new country in the survey with recently fast growing number of Polish citizens. This edition of the report focuses among others on the following questions, important for the analysis of the recent trends in emigration of Polish citizens:

  1. What is the influence of the record low unemployment rate in Poland?
  2. What are the factors that influence plans of further stay abroad and the level of the remittances?
  3. What are the characteristic features and motivations of Polish emigrants in Norway?
  4. Has brexit referendum changed the situation and migration strategies of Polish citizens in the UK?
In a nutshell, the results of the survey indicate that the record low unemployment in Poland has reduced the outflow of new emigrants to major emigration countries such as Great Britain and Germany, although new, niche destinations such as Norway have emerged. The difference in net wages in Poland and abroad is still the most important motivation for emigration and stay. The median wages (middle wages) in all four countries are nominally around twice as high as in Poland, and modes (the most frequent wages) are 2.0-3.6 times higher than in Poland. Nevertheless, around 15% of migrants are determined to return to Poland in the future regardless of the level of remuneration. The economic upswing in the Polish economy has been also behind the significant reduction in the percentage of emigrants planning to remain abroad permanently. Instead, more immigrants plan to return to Poland in the future, but after 3 years or more.

In line with the length of emigration, the tendency to transfer money to Poland decreases, although this specificity varies between countries. The number of Polish citizens in Norway has recently increased. This emigration consist mainly of people in the prime-age, with secondary education, who relatively often transfer money to Poland and quite rarely use social benefits. Emigrants from Poland in the United Kingdom are on average the best educated group in comparison with emigrants in other countries covered by the survey. In addition, only 10% of respondents in the UK declared shortening their planned stay in this country due to the consequences of the brexit referendum. The vast majority of these emigrants (85%) fulfill the required conditions for staying in Britain after brexit but they need to complete a relatively simple administrative procedure.

Polish citizens working abroad in 2016. Report of the survey

This report presents selected results of questionnaire surveys of emigrants from Po-land in Great Britain, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands performed in November and December 2016 for the needs of NBP.

These surveys represent a unique source of information concerning the position of emigrants from Poland in foreign labour markets and their links with the country, including remittances to Poland. A special issue is the impact of Great Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit) on emigrants’ life plans. In brief, the report responds to the following research questions significant in terms of current migration trends:

  1. Is temporary emigration turning into settlement emigration and what are the con-sequences?
  2. To what extent do differences in wages and the labour market situation between Poland and the countries of Western Europe influence decisions on emigration?
  3. How are the preferences of emigrants from Poland regarding remittances chang-ing?
  4. What are the consequences of the “Brexit” referendum in Great Britain?

Ukrainian citizens working in Poland – report from the survey conducted in 2017

Ukrainian citizens working in Poland – report from the survey conducted in 2015

Remittances from Polish citizens abroad – analysis based on the NBP survey among emigrants

Report from the survey among immigrants in Poland presented during the NBP seminar: „Methods of the measuring economic activity of immigrants in Poland. Chances and limitations”

Article: “Settlers and Guests – Determinants of the Plans of Return Migration from UK and Ireland to Poland in the Period 2007-2009”

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