Social Development and Poverty

ADB’s central mission is working to reduce poverty in Asia and the Pacific and to ensure the benefits of economic growth and social development are equitably spread.

Human Mobility and Migration

The Asia and the Pacific region is home to a growing number of migrants moving from their communities to others in the same country or to other countries. Migration can be a powerful contributor to economic and social development. At the same time, migration can add to overcrowding in cities, strain social cohesion in migrant receiving areas, and be tied up with human trafficking.

Passengers from Kunming to Lijiang arrives at Dali Railway Station.

Passengers from Kunming to Lijiang arrives at Dali Railway Station.

Greater connectivity between and among countries has promoted human mobility within the region. Migrants can bring needed labor skills, trading networks, and an entrepreneurial spirit to destination communities. Migrants also send remittances to their places of origin, providing financial resources that can reduce poverty and be used for productive purposes. ADB supports its developing member countries to facilitate human mobility while maximizing its benefits.

Related resources

  • HIV/AIDS Vulnerabilities in Regional Transport Corridors in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan

    This report recommends ways to combine regional and national strategies for containing the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially among key populations at higher risk of HIV exposure. It summarizes the assessments of the HIV/AIDS situations in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, particularly along transport corridors connecting these two countries with each other and with neighboring states. And it concludes by highlighting the need for an improved coordination of disease prevention and control at the regional level, with measures such as vulnerability mapping and targeted intervention.

    24 Aug 2012 | Papers and BriefsHIV/AIDS Vulnerabilities in Regional Transport Corridors in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan Papers and Briefs | 24 Aug 2012

    HIV/AIDS Vulnerabilities in Regional Transport Corridors in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan

    This report recommends ways to combine regional and national strategies for containing the spread of HIV/AIDS, especially among key populations at higher risk of HIV exposure. It summarizes the assessments of the HIV/AIDS situations in the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan, particularly along transport corridors connecting these two countries with each other and with neighboring states. And it concludes by highlighting the need for an improved coordination of disease prevention and control at the regional level, with measures such as vulnerability mapping and targeted intervention.

  • Facilitating Safe Labor Migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion

    Migration within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) can be categorized as international migration, internal migration, and border mobility. Labor migration in the GMS is widespread and concerns at least 3 to 5 million workers.

    International, bilateral, and national legislation provide the legal framework for addressing migration issues. However, gaps still exist, cooperation could be enhanced, and governance issues still slow the process down.

    The main issues related to labor migration in the GMS are the following:

    • Readiness for economic integration in the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Economic Community (AEC). The transition toward a knowledge-based economy needs mechanisms to recognize the emerging skills and an environment attractive to highly skilled migrants;
    • Regularization of migration. Irregular migration should be curbed by creating an environment in which regularization is sustainable to migrants;
    • Migrant workers' rights. Rights and protection of migrant workers are not yet ensured, even if laws that address regular migrants exist. This is part of the environment that makes regular migration non-sustainable for migrants;
    • Migration of women and children. The feminization of migration should be mainstreamed into migration policies to protect women and children; and
    • Data availability. Knowledge on labor migration is sorely lacking. Research should be encouraged through both quantitative and qualitative surveys for greater understanding of how migration works within the subregion.

    Recommendations

    Regarding migration within the GMS, recommendations emerging from this paper include the following:

    • Increase protection mechanisms for migrants in cross-border settings;
    • Strengthen capacity and legal framework in managing labor migration;
    • Enhance social protection for migrants and their families;
    • Promote ethical recruitment and employment;
    • Strengthen return and reintegration support to migrants;
    • Increase knowledge management mechanisms; and
    • Promote effective use of remittances.
    01 Apr 2013 | ReportsFacilitating Safe Labor Migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion Reports | 01 Apr 2013

    Facilitating Safe Labor Migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion

    Migration within the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) can be categorized as international migration, internal migration, and border mobility. Labor migration in the GMS is widespread and concerns at least 3 to 5 million workers.

    International, bilateral, and national legislation provide the legal framework for addressing migration issues. However, gaps still exist, cooperation could be enhanced, and governance issues still slow the process down.

    The main issues related to labor migration in the GMS are the following:

    • Readiness for economic integration in the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations' Economic Community (AEC). The transition toward a knowledge-based economy needs mechanisms to recognize the emerging skills and an environment attractive to highly skilled migrants;
    • Regularization of migration. Irregular migration should be curbed by creating an environment in which regularization is sustainable to migrants;
    • Migrant workers' rights. Rights and protection of migrant workers are not yet ensured, even if laws that address regular migrants exist. This is part of the environment that makes regular migration non-sustainable for migrants;
    • Migration of women and children. The feminization of migration should be mainstreamed into migration policies to protect women and children; and
    • Data availability. Knowledge on labor migration is sorely lacking. Research should be encouraged through both quantitative and qualitative surveys for greater understanding of how migration works within the subregion.

    Recommendations

    Regarding migration within the GMS, recommendations emerging from this paper include the following:

    • Increase protection mechanisms for migrants in cross-border settings;
    • Strengthen capacity and legal framework in managing labor migration;
    • Enhance social protection for migrants and their families;
    • Promote ethical recruitment and employment;
    • Strengthen return and reintegration support to migrants;
    • Increase knowledge management mechanisms; and
    • Promote effective use of remittances.
  • Impact of Global Crisis on Migrant Workers and Families: Gender Perspective

    This publication examines the impact of the crisis among migrant workers and their families—with gender perspective—to provide useful information for better evidence-based policy making.

    Based on household surveys in Indonesia and the Philippines, the results show that women are in worse condition and are more vulnerable than men. Women migrants still have lower education and skills, reflected in their inferior jobs. They face greater difficulties in reintegration when they return, forcing them to return abroad. Women also bear a heavier burden due to their gendered role in the family, and those who stay are more often unemployed or in vulnerable employment. Moreover, despite strong views that the man should be the breadwinner and the one going abroad, the increasing feminization of current migration indicates that necessity is a strong push factor forcing more women to go abroad.

    These findings further strengthen the call for considering gender in migration policies.

    03 May 2013 | BooksImpact of Global Crisis on Migrant Workers and Families: Gender Perspective Books | 03 May 2013

    Impact of Global Crisis on Migrant Workers and Families: Gender Perspective

    This publication examines the impact of the crisis among migrant workers and their families—with gender perspective—to provide useful information for better evidence-based policy making.

    Based on household surveys in Indonesia and the Philippines, the results show that women are in worse condition and are more vulnerable than men. Women migrants still have lower education and skills, reflected in their inferior jobs. They face greater difficulties in reintegration when they return, forcing them to return abroad. Women also bear a heavier burden due to their gendered role in the family, and those who stay are more often unemployed or in vulnerable employment. Moreover, despite strong views that the man should be the breadwinner and the one going abroad, the increasing feminization of current migration indicates that necessity is a strong push factor forcing more women to go abroad.

    These findings further strengthen the call for considering gender in migration policies.

  • Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment in Cambodia

    The study examines labor market trends and obstacles to women’s economic empowerment—particularly in agriculture, business development, and wage employment. Labor migration and vulnerability to shocks are highlighted as special themes. It makes a series of policy recommendations, identifies areas for further research, and highlights how Asian Development Bank investments can promote women’s economic empowerment.

    17 Mar 2015 | ReportsPromoting Women’s Economic Empowerment in Cambodia Reports | 17 Mar 2015

    Promoting Women’s Economic Empowerment in Cambodia

    The study examines labor market trends and obstacles to women’s economic empowerment—particularly in agriculture, business development, and wage employment. Labor migration and vulnerability to shocks are highlighted as special themes. It makes a series of policy recommendations, identifies areas for further research, and highlights how Asian Development Bank investments can promote women’s economic empowerment.

  • Ensuring the Triple Win of Labor Migration in Asia

    Domestic policies and bilateral agreements are necessary to support efficient job matching, eliminate abuses in the recruitment process, and protect the rights of workers abroad.

    Key points

    • Labor migration reduces structural imbalances in regional and global labor markets.
    • Migrants find jobs not available at home or earn higher wages.
    • Receiving countries fill vacancies and reduce skill deficits.
    • Institutions in origin and destination countries are designed to facilitate efficient job matching and to protect workers.
    • However, inadequate enforcement of worker protection results in the abuse of workers in some destinations.
    Policy Brief 2015-1
    24 Jun 2015 | Papers and BriefsEnsuring the Triple Win of Labor Migration in Asia Papers and Briefs | 24 Jun 2015

    Ensuring the Triple Win of Labor Migration in Asia

    Domestic policies and bilateral agreements are necessary to support efficient job matching, eliminate abuses in the recruitment process, and protect the rights of workers abroad.

    Key points

    • Labor migration reduces structural imbalances in regional and global labor markets.
    • Migrants find jobs not available at home or earn higher wages.
    • Receiving countries fill vacancies and reduce skill deficits.
    • Institutions in origin and destination countries are designed to facilitate efficient job matching and to protect workers.
    • However, inadequate enforcement of worker protection results in the abuse of workers in some destinations.
    Policy Brief 2015-1

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Innovative Approaches for the Management of Labor Migration in Asia

The biggest driver of migration flows in Asia is the search for greater job opportunities and better income.

Experts

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Wendy Walker

Director, Human and Social Development

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Yukiko Ito

Principal Social Development Specialist

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Meredith Wyse

Senior Social Development Specialist (Aging and Care)

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Oleksiy Ivaschenko

Senior Social Protection and Jobs Specialist

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