Economics of Migration Working Paper 5
Social networks play an important role in channelling workers into jobs. This has benefits: informal networks are often able to match workers and employers faster and more efficiently than formal recruitment mechanisms. But it also has drawbacks, since widespread reliance on social networks in the labour market can lead to social stratification by limiting an individual's opportunities to those that his or her peer group can provide.
Since 2004, when enlargement of the European Union gave nationals from the eight Eastern European accession states (known as A8 migrants) the right to work in the UK, the largest A8 group - Poles - has increasingly relied on social networks to find employment. Empirical analysis suggests that this occurred both because of the natural development of social networks over time during a period of huge expansion and flux in the Polish immigrant population and because of the changing profile of the Polish immigrants present in the UK.
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