The number of Poles recognising the economic contribution of immigrants and expressing support for allowing them to work in Poland has continued to increase, according to the latest figures from the Centre for Public Opinion Research (CBOS), a public polling institute.
A majority of respondents, 62%, agree that “foreigners should be allowed to take any work in Poland”. This figure has continually risen over the last three decades, from 9% in 1992 to 31% in 2004 and 55% in 2016, the last time the question was asked by CBOS.
Meanwhile, the proportion of Poles who say that “foreigners should not be allowed to work in Poland at all” has fallen to just 4%, down from 10% in 2016, 22% in 2004 and 42% in 1992.
CBOS also asked how Poles feel about the presence of workers from countries outside the EU such as Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Nepal and India. Immigrants from these places, especially Ukraine, have been arriving in unprecedented numbers. For the last two years Poland has issued more first residents permits to non-EU citizens than any other member state.
The survey found 49% of respondents reporting that they come into contact with foreigners in Poland at least once a week, including 19% who say they do so every day. A similar proportion (44%) declared that they know someone who employs immigrant workers, up from 26% just three years ago.
Almost three quarters (74%) of Poles said that the work of these immigrants has been beneficial to the Polish economy, and 44% said it had benefited them personally. This marked a significant rise from 2008, when the figures were 55% and 17% respectively.
By contrast, only 19% said that it been unfavourable for them personally and 13% that it was unfavourable for the Polish economy, down from 32% and 25% respectively in 2008.
Poland’s central bank last year reported that the recent wave of mass immigration has helped to ease pressures on Poland’s labour market caused by rapid economic growth, record low unemployment, high levels of emigration and a poor demographic situation. The bank estimates that Ukrainian workers have created 11% of Poland’s GDP growth since 2014.
Daniel Tilles is editor-in-chief of Notes from Poland and assistant professor of history at the Pedagogical University of Krakow. He has written on Polish affairs for a wide range of publications, including Foreign Policy, POLITICO Europe, The Independent and Dziennik Gazeta Prawna.