By : Tabita Diela
Jakarta Globe | 11 October 2017
Jakarta. Reducing restrictions on labor migration offers an opportunity for Southeast Asian countries to improve their economies by providing better employment alternatives to workers, according to a new report by the World Bank published on Monday (09/10).
The 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) envision the region as a single market with a free movement of goods, services and investment, yet migration procedures across the bloc remain restrictive.
The World Bank report, titled “Migrating to Opportunity,” identifies a widespread perception that a migrant influx would have negative impacts on receiving countries. So, countries in the region impose costly and lengthy recruitment processes, restrictive quotas on the number of foreign workers allowed and rigid employment policies.
However, the study rebuked that notion, showing that reducing barriers for high-skilled workers would increase worker welfare by 14 percent compared to no reduction at all. Migrant workers would enjoy higher wages in destination countries, while staying workers would see higher demand for their skills that in turn boost their wages.
Workers welfare would be 29 percent higher if countries lowered barriers for all migrant workers compared to lowering barriers for only skilled workers.