Labor and Social Protection
Photo: Gennadiy Ratushenko / World Bank
My colleague Victoria and I had an opportunity recently to meet with students at the Tajik-Russian Slavonic University in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, as part of our research and preparation for a new report called Tajikistan Jobs Diagnostic: Strategic Framework for Jobs.
Curious to learn about their future professional ambitions, we asked one class of students how many of them would like to work in the private sector after they graduate. Only about 10% of the students raised their hands. We also asked them how many would like to work for the government. This time, around 20% raised their hands.
(In observance of the International Migrants Day on December 18)
In response to looming labor shortages in the so-called “3-D” industries (difficult, dangerous, dirty), Korea has allowed the entry of low-skilled foreign workers since 1990’s. Its Industrial Trainee Scheme introduced in 1993 was inadequate to address labor demand (an increasing employment of irregular foreign workers), unequipped to warrant trainees’ labor rights and social protection, and associated with high recruitment cost borne by trainees. The latter appears to be liked with trainees’ overstay - to recoup their initial sunk cost.
While the beneficial impacts of migration and remittances on social welfare have been well documented, we know very little about the effects of migration--mostly by men-- on the local labor market behavior of women. To help address this gap, Mariapia Mendola (of the University of Milan) and I explored the gender aspects of migration and economic development in Albania over the past fifteen years. We decided to examine Albania during this period in greater detail because economic hardship during transition fostered massive migrant outflows, mostly to neighboring Greece and Italy. Also, male migration is an ordinary and widespread phenomenon in Albania.
Using unusually detailed international migration histories from the 2005 Albania Living Standards Measurement Survey, we found that Albanian households with family members (mostly sons and daughters) living abroad are less likely to have women in paid employment. However, male spouses with past migration experience exert a positive influence on female self-employment. The same effect is not seen for men when women migrate. Our findings suggest that over time, male-dominated, shorter-term migration may increase the income-earning opportunities for women at home.
Our working paper based on this research was published last month in the World Bank's Policy Research Working Paper series.
A constant struggle facing researchers and policymakers tackling migration issues is a lack of good data. The Center for Global Development recently released “Five Steps Toward Better Migration Data,” an excellent report on concrete steps governments and non-governmental organizations can take in the short run to fill this gap.
This report is particularly important in the context of a new round of census taking in 2010. The five recommendations are to:
- Ask basic census questions and make the data publicly available;
- Compile and release existing administrative data;
- Centralize labor force surveys;
- Provide access to microdata, not just tabulations; and
- Include migration modules on more existing household surveys.
Given the abundance of recommendations in the development industry, a laudable effort is the accompanying report card (PDF) which tracks countries’ progress with respect to the recommendations.
With remittances expected to fall in 2009 as the financial crisis unfolds, the primary mechanism through which origin countries recoup the efficiency increases achieved by skilled migration will dissipate. But is there another mechanism, less direct but with long-term implications, through which migrants can benefit their home country.
The notion of the brain drain from developing to developed countries is not new. What is relatively new in the ’new brain drain’ or ’brain gain’ literature is its positive prognosis regarding the economic implications of labor market liberalization. Yes there is a brain drain and on the whole it is bad for development. But the migration of skilled workers need not be a zero sum game. That is, the gain of the host country need not inevitably translate to the loss of the sending country.
This is the first year that the H-1B visa cap has not been reached during the first 5 days of filing applications. The current cap is set at 65,000, with an additional 20,000 for holders of advanced degrees. It seems that the number of petitions for the H-1B visa this year will be far less than last year. The U.S.