Integrating Migrant Workers

Worker migration contributes in many ways to the Sri Lankan economy. Foreign employment is increasingly becoming a major source of employment for Sri Lankans and the worker remittances amounted to 9.4 per cent of GDP in 2014. Yet the official labour statistics do not take into account migrants in their indicators. The available information on migrants is mainly from administrative sources, and as such, they have limited use. The main surveys that collect information on the labour market and incomes of individuals imperfectly cover migrant workers.  In this back drop this study has two main objectives: a) to assess how labour market participation rates change with the inclusion of migrant workers; and, b) to suggest ways of extending existing household surveys to collect better information on migrants.  The study finds, after some assumptions, that the overall labour market participation rate (LFPR) increases from 51.6 per cent to 53.0 per cent when migrant workers are included (assuming no unemployed amongst migrants).  Correspondingly, when migrants are included, the LFPR for males increase from 75.6 per cent to 76.2 per cent and the LFPR for females increases from 29.7 per cent to 31.4 per cent for females. The study also reviews existing surveys for Moldova, Macedonia and the Philippines and provides recommendations for revising household surveys in Sri Lanka to better capture migrant data.

Research team

Nisha Arunatilake
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Sunimalee Madurawala
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Priyanka Jayawardena
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