Posted: June 12th, 2012 | Author: Giandra | Filed under: Economics, Human Rights | Tags: economic benefits migration, philippines, social cost migration
In the hospitality industry and other service sectors in the western hemisphere, you are prone to find a Filipino working. You may ask yourself why there are so many working abroad. In 2009 alone, 8.9 million Filipinos citizens worked abroad.
Migration is not a new phenomenon in the Filipino history. According to Dante A. Ang, Chairman of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas, the Filipino organized migration started already in 1906 when agricultural labor was needed on Hawaii. The elite were also granted admission in the United States as scholars during this same period. After the Second World War, the second group of organized Filipinos migrated. Veterans who served in the US military, together with their families, had the opportunity to migrate to the US. The third and current group of migrates started in the 1970’s when the Middle East experienced the oil boom and simultaneously, the Philippines was experiencing its strongest unemployment rate.
According to statistics of the Bangko Sentral NG Pilipinas and ASEAN Leaflet, over 2010, almost 10% of the GDP was created by remittances. In 2011 $ 20,116,992 thousand US dollars was sent as remittance. The first quarter of 2012 has seen a 5.4% growth on a year to date basis. The top five destinations to migrate are Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and the United States. Nevertheless these are not the destinations that yield the most remittance. More than forty million US dollars comes from the Unites states, followed by Saudi Arabia, Japan, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
A question that might arise is; why do people migrate? The main reason for people to migrate is the high unemployment rate and low salaries available in the country. Unemployment rate since 2000 has been between 11.7% down to its current 7.2% according to ASEAN Statistics leaflet 2011 and Indexmundi. When compared to its neighbor Malaysia, which is at a rate of 3.7%, it becomes even clearer that the unemployment issue in the country is alarming. In addition to this, a decline in the agriculture sector has also lead to an increase in rural Filipinos to pursuit work overseas.
Even though there are many economic benefits to migrate, the social cost of migration should not be forgotten. One concept that directly comes to mind is brain drain. Filipino professionals migrate in pursuit of a better living, leaving behind the country with unskilled and uneducated workers.
One special group that is vulnerable to migration is children. The Division of Policies and Practice of UNICEF has recognized several indicators affecting children as consequences of migration. These indicators are increase in juvenile delinquency, drug abuse, psycho-social maladjustments, loss of self-esteem, early marriages, teenage pregnancies, and family breakdown among the children of migrants. In this same report, is mentioned that remittances have a positive influence on the level of education and health of children left behind. In contrast, a study by Estrella Mai Dizon-Anonuevo Executive Director at Atikha Inc. explains that there is growing disinterest among children to pursuit a higher education. This is caused by children who see relatives work in service overseas and receive a much higher salary than professionals who stay in the country.
On family level, another concern that is also present is alienation or estrangement of relations. Communication with overseas relatives is difficult and in many times, both parents and children do not confide their true feelings to each other. Both think that sharing negative feelings and thoughts will form a burden to the oversea relative. This creates distancing over time, not to mention the number of divorces that occur. Anonuevo continues by also mentioning strong parent dependence for consumerism and gender inequality.
It is important to realize that the problems do not stay only on the country of origin. Children who migrate with their parents are also faced with difficulties with education in the new country. Not to forget discrimination by the host community. Additionally, the host country will face creation of minority groups.
On the other hand, there are benefits for the receiving country as well. A brain drain from the Philippines becomes a brain gain for the receiving country. In addition, migrants usually receive the jobs that locals do not want to perform. According to the Institute of Migration and Development Issues the majority of female overseas employees are service workers, while the male are production workers.
In my opinion, the problem of migration will not decrease shortly and it should not, since the economy is so reliant on remittances. However, there are many actions that can be taken from the different stakeholders to alleviate the social cost of migration. The indicators that I have mentioned are only a few, and much more research should be carried out by NGO’s and the government to see what other aspects are there to be addressed. In the meanwhile the government should foster entrepreneurship among the youth and teach them how to save.
There are many regulations in place to protect overseas workers; however, the government should also start shifting to a more job creating economy. Reports by different organizations such as UNICEF, Atikha and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas are available for the government to refer to.
Migrant workers should make use of the governmental and non-governmental organizations that focus in helping them. Finally, they should focus on family unification and saving aswell.