Geographia Polonica (2000) vol. 73, iss. 1

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Labour market reform and youth unemployment in Poland

Mike Ingham, Hilary Ingham

Geographia Polonica (2000) vol. 73, iss. 1, pp. 5-24


Widespread youth unemployment has been an unwelcome, if predictable, cost of Polish labour market reform. Yet even though young people everywhere are over-repre-sented in the unemployment pool, the burden of the early shock was not borne equally across the country. This paper charts the emergence of the problem and its distribution across space while examining the possibility that the early regional inequalities were transitory. Although there was a trend towards convergence during the upswing in unemployment, it was neither achieved fully, nor is the process continuing. It is, of course, possible that persistent disparities in the seriousness of youth unemployment may be tolerable in an environment in which unemployment generally is now falling. However, the paper urges that recent signs of some improvement in the situation of young people on the labour market should not be taken to imply that active policy interventions have thereby been rendered redundant. The extent of long-term unemployment amongst the young, the demographic trends, and the inevitable future restructuring of large parts of the economy suggest that unemployment may be the lasting legacy of the shock-therapy adopted by the authors of the Polish transformation.

Keywords: Poland, youth, unemployment, convergence, regions

Mike Ingham, European Studies Research Institute, University of Salford, Salford M5 4WT, UK
Hilary Ingham, Department of Economics, The Management School, Lancaster University, Lancaster LAI 4YX, UK