Labor Migration and Inclusive Growth: Toward Creating Employment in Origin Communities

24 May 2015

In the world's fourth-largest country, Indonesia, the number of annual regular migrants has increased from less than 100,000 in 1990 to about 500,000 in 2013. But is the pursuit of migration as a development strategy supporting economic, social, and political empowerment in communities of origin?

This report was made possible through generous support from the Solidarity Center and is part of its Transformation of Work research series.

Economic integration – characterized by trade and global value chains, cheaper and quicker transportation, and increasing flows of capital and investments – is prompting people to cross borders in pursuit of new employment opportunities. As a result, the landscape of human mobility has grown more complex – with new South-South migration patterns, the proliferation of labor recruitment firms, and a rise in temporary contracts. The changing landscape warrants new research on the linkages between emergent trends in migration and the broader aims of social and economic development.

In Indonesia, increasing emigration is driven by both push factors – the Indonesian government’s emphasis on migration as a development strategy – and pull factors – the demand for labor, especially domestic workers, in the wealthier economies of Asia and the Middle East. Some localities in Indonesia experience little international emigration, while others are heavily remittance-dependent, making it an ideal place for studying, through comparison, how transnational migration affects development outcomes and social and economic rights in communities of origin.

(Pulang Pergi is a JJN documentary that was shot during primary research in Indonesia. Click here to watch the full documentary.)

The JustJobs Network conducted primary research in Indonesia, that involved interviews with a variety of stakeholders in the Kabupaten of Sumbawa in West Nusa Tenggara. Respondents included return migrants, families of migrants, regional government officials from the Department of Agriculture and Department of Manpower, local civil society, and academics.

The research examined the local economic impact of transnational migration in Indonesia. The most important question we asked: Are communities of origin – having received an influx of remittance capital for over thirty years – now sustaining enough economic activity to create jobs for their local workforces?