Increase in the number of white-collar jobs at an outstanding rate

Halaska Gábor | 2022-12-21
White-collar, or intellectual jobs in Hungary grew at a rate well above the EU average between 2014 and 2021, according to a new US research. In other words, Hungary is quickly catching up with the trend known as the knowledge economy, which is a key driver of this century.

According to a few weeks’ analysis by, a well-known overseas economic research portal, the most important thing for our future is which countries and regions will stand out in terms of economic and social development in the coming decades.

According to the portal, the key to this is the creation and strengthening of knowledge-based jobs and the knowledge-based economy – Newography’s analysis is quoted in detail in the December issue of Makronóm.

It’s also good to know that knowledge economy features prominently in the government’s economic development and innovation strategy. It is worth comparing recent data and findings of with Pillars 3, 5, 8 and 9 of economic policy in this writing.

Europe seen from the U. S. considering intellectual capacity

They believe it is essential that Europe presents a more unified picture than it has done so far. In the digitised and knowledge-intensive world of the last decades, not only the EU but also the UK, Switzerland, Iceland and other geographically close economies have become essentially one. So America should now look at Europe as a fully integrated market, especially in the knowledge economy, in intellectual and white-collar work and regarding such companies and businesses.

The Harmonious Growth Index of Makronóm Institute, the HNI, takes a similar approach to the knowledge society, with similar results.  

What is white-collar work?

A brief but important detour: white-collar work refers to intellectual jobs. The name comes from the fact that in America, the shirt collars of employees who typically worked in office jobs were originally white. This includes those who work in the real pull sectors of modern economies, in any digital or technological field, in innovative projects, research and development, or in any job that requires intellectual capital. 

szellemi diákmunka munka

The definition of white-collar work comes from the fact that in America, the shirt collars of employees who typically worked in office jobs were originally white. (Photo: Unsplash)

In a broader sense, of course, it includes intellectual jobs in education, administration, finance, infocommunications, and even industry, logistics and commerce, as well as any service where the nature of the work corresponds to the above. 

The future is now in our region!

Knowledge-based jobs are not growing like mushrooms in Western and Northern Europe (as before), but mostly in Southern and East-Central Europe, says the US study. In two regions that previously lagged far behind the North and West, they add. Places such as Stockholm and London remain leading knowledge hubs, but are now 

three Central and Eastern European capital regions, Bratislava, Budapest and Prague, are now the regions with the highest concentration of knowledge workers.

As the researchers have pointed out above, they reaffirm that English as a common working language and close digital connectivity are increasingly transforming Europe into an integrated economy.

What did the authors of the study look at?

Over the past six years, they have tracked the share of working-age people employed in knowledge-intensive businesses across Europe in 31 European countries and 280 regions. While the number of knowledge-intensive jobs temporarily declined in 2020 due to the global pandemic and the economic downturn, it started to increase again in 2021.

The analysis looks in detail at how the concentration of jobs in the ‘brain business’ has changed over time, with nine European countries seeing an increase of over 33% since 2014. 

Estonia has seen the largest increase, at 72 percent, followed by Hungary at 62.2 percent!

In addition, of the top 7 countries, six are Central and Eastern European, with only Cyprus slightly behind.

Looking at the Top 3 countries, the results are clear. Hungary also beats strong regional competitors like Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia!

Change in the concentration of white-collar jobs (per working-age population) between 2014 and 2021

  • Estonia 72.0% 
  • Hungary 62.2%
  • Slovenia 60.8% 
  • Cyprus 55%
  • Latvia 48% 
  • Lithuania 42% 
  • Poland 39% 
  • Portugal 39%
  • Slovakia 34% 
  • Bulgaria 31% 
  • Malta 30% 
  • Romania 30% 
  • Spain 28% 
  • Croatia 27%
  • Belgium 25%
  • Finland 25%
  • Czech Republic 22%
  • Netherlands 15%
  • Italy 14%
  • United Kingdom 12%
  • Luxembourg 8%
  • Sweden 4%
  • Norway 3%
  • France 3%
  • Austria 2%
  • Switzerland 0%
  • Denmark -1%
  • Iceland -4%
  • Greece -11%


The study therefore shows that a very significant shift is taking place. Jobs in ‘brain drain’ firms are growing in parts of Europe where the combination of an abundant supply of talent and the relatively lower cost of employing talent is having an impact.  

How many people work in such knowledge-intensive fields?

The concentration of knowledge-intensive jobs is highest in Switzerland, where 10.1 percent of the population work in brain business jobs. Ireland has a similarly high share of employment in knowledge-intensive firms, followed by Sweden, where 9.3 percent of the population work in brain business jobs. Ireland is ranked second in the ‘brain-sucking’ business jobs index, ahead of Sweden, because it has attracted a number of US technology companies and has policies that encourage domestic entrepreneurship.

Our big cities further east have really pulled away here!

In our region, Bratislava and its surroundings stand out: it has the highest concentration of jobs for brain drain companies. More than 22% of the working-age population of this region work in knowledge-intensive firms. 

However, it should be highlighted that Budapest and Prague are in second and third place, neck and neck. Then Stockholm, Upper Bavaria (Munich, Ingolstadt, Rosenheim, Freising), Paris, Copenhagen, the Oxford region, Warsaw and London.  

European regions with the highest concentration of jobs in brain business enterprises 

  1. Bratislava 22.4%
  2. Budapest 19.9%
  3. Prague 19.9%
  4. Stockholm 17.8%
  5. Upper Bavaria (Munich and surroundings) 17.6%
  6. Paris 16.7%
  7. Copenhagen 15.9%
  8. Oxford region (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) 15.9%
  9. Warsaw 15.8%
  10. London 15.4%


Where do most “brain workers” work?

The French lead the way in terms of the number of people employed. Paris has more than 1.2 million brain business jobs and remains the only region in Europe with more than one million employees working in knowledge-intensive businesses. Interestingly, this is more than half of the brain business workers in the seven regions including Paris in Southern Europe! In fact, the capital regions of Southern Europe (including Paris, Madrid, Rome, Lisbon, Athens, Cyprus and Malta) together have more than 2.3 million brain business jobs. 

This is now more than the 1.7 million knowledge-intensive jobs in Western European capitals (London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Vienna, Brussels, Luxembourg). 

At the same time, the capitals of the Central and Eastern European and Baltic countries (Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest, Prague, Sofia, Bratislava, Zagreb, Latvia, Ljubljana, Vilnius and Estonia) have a total of nearly 1.5 million “brain business” jobs. 

The Nordic nations are of course still excelling in creating knowledge-intensive jobs, but their population is substantially smaller. In the capital regions of Northern Europe (Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Oslo and Iceland), there are a total of around 700 000 brain business jobs.

Southern and East-Central Europe (including the small Baltic states) are often seen as lagging behind Western and Northern Europe in economic development, but are now catching up, says the recent study.