Job Is Not Everything. the Case of Return Migration from the UK to Poland in the Wake of the 2008 Economic Crisis
It is estimated that within 8 years after the EU enlargement in 2004 about 0,7 million Poles went to work in the United Kingdom. At the same time it is suggested that about 250 thousand Polish immigrants in Britain decided to come back to their home country. The financial crisis did not significantly influence the number of return migrants. It rather slowed down the new emigration and those who stayed in the UK employed wait-and-see strategy (Barcevičius et al.). The quantitative data on Polish returnees (Bieńkowska et al.) suggest that return migrants are more likely than the non-migrants to be unemployed (especially women). Simultaneously, they are much more likely to run their own business and work as a self-employed.
Addressing this apparent contradiction, this paper makes use of qualitative research to understand the conditions and process of successful and unsuccessful reintegration on the home country labour market. Based on the analysis of biographical narrative interviews with the Polish return migrants from the UK to the Lower Silesia region in Poland, we examine the process of labour market reintegration as a result of the interplay of subjective and structural factors mediated by earlier biographical experiences. In the paper, the tentative results of an ongoing empirical study will be presented along with a theoretical discussion on the limits of human capital approach in understanding return migration.