as much as 10% of the guys born in my year are dead
I wonder if in Poland, the 1981-1989 crows also ended up being losers
Hmm... difficult to say. I'm a bit older (1979) but my generation was hit quite hard by the transformation. I attended what some people call an elite high-school, one of the best in Poland at that time. We all thought that we would go on to the best universities and then be the elite of our country. We did the former... as for the latter. Well, when we got our degrees in early 2000s when, as you aptly put it, most of the "plunder" was done, the wages were ridiculously low and Poland was about to join the EU. Millions of people left. From my class of 28 boys and 4 girls - that's typical for mat-fiz (mathematics-physics) classes - at some point only 5 people were in Poland. My wife and I left too (for the Emerald Isle). Overwhelming majority of people worked below their qualifications - and when I say below
, I really mean it. For example, my best friend - a super-smart guy, who got a Ministry of Transport award for his master's thesis, worked for many years as a waiter. Crazy times.
Some people stayed abroad, some came back to Poland (including yours truly). Did we end up being losers? Hard to say... we certainly didn't become the elite of Poland but most of us managed to save enough for their own apartments/houses, which gave us a huge headstart over people who stayed in Poland and took out 25-30 year mortgages. We learnt useful skills, we learnt how to work hard and live frugally, and - at the end of the day - I would say that economically my generation was/is quite successful.