Published on People Move

A look at South-South migration and Bangladesh

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This recent Reuters article places most Bangladeshi migrant workers in the Middle East, US, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. The Migration and Remittances Factbook, however, has India as their top destination.

In fact, migration to other developing countries is more prevalent than we think. My colleagues Dilip Ratha and William Shaw have estimated in a World Bank Working Paper (PDF) that almost half of migrants from "South" countries (i.e. developing countries) are in other South countries.


Take Bangladesh and India for example. Bilateral migration data estimates show 3.5 million people born in Bangladesh live in India (unofficial estimates are higher, in the range of 5-10 million). Conversely, an estimated one million people born in India now live in Bangladesh.


The New Nation reported recently that some 370,000 Bangladeshis have found employment in Malaysia and about 100,000 are expected to join them this year. Remittances sent by these migrants have grown from $11.8 million in 2006-07 to $92.4 million in 2007-08.


It is encouraging that the Bangladeshi government’s efforts to protect the welfare of migrant workers - a theme of this year's Global Forum on Migration and Development - is being appreciated by the Malaysian authorities.  According to a senior Malaysian official: 

“All embassies...should follow the example of the Bangladesh High Commission in welfare activities, particularly in setting up a camp to help their citizens who are looking for employment and facing problems in the country". 

In view of these trends, policymakers should consider facilitating remittances and investments from the Bangladeshi diaspora, not only those in high income destination countries, but also in developing host countries, ultimately benefiting both sides. 


Sanket Mohapatra

Associate Professor, IIM Ahmedabad

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