Dr. Bilesha Weeraratne’s paper for UNU-WIDER now online

1 March 2021

A Working Paper on the ‘Ban on female migrant workers: Skills-differentiated evidence from Sri Lanka’ by Dr. Bilesha Weeraratne, Research Fellow and Head of Migration and Urbanisation Research at IPS  for the United Nations University – World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) is now available online. This study has been prepared within the UNU-WIDER project ‘Women’s Work – Routes to Economic and Social Empowerment’.

The study examines the skills-differentiated impact of a restrictive female labour migration policy in Sri Lanka using monthly departure data from 2012 to 2018 in a difference-indifference model. The Family Background Report (FBR) policy has resulted in decreasing departures among lower-skilled groups—female domestic, unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled workers—and increasing departures among middle-level and professional workers. The decrease in departures of lower-skilled groups is consistent with the objectives of the policy and existing impact evaluation studies, while the increase in higher-skilled workers is consistent with the literature on FBR-related corruption and misreporting of skills to avoid the policy. Thus, the policy is associated with higher involvement of lower-skilled workers in recruitment-related corruption, higher exposure to recruitment-related vulnerability, and lower foreign employment opportunities. The study also finds that it was appropriate to exempt the 45–49-year age group from the FBR requirement in 2017.