International migration for temporary employment is key to South Asia’s development path, in terms of both jobs and remittance flows. Overseas markets are a critical source of employment for South Asian economies that may not be able to absorb workers sufficiently or quickly enough into the domestic labor market. Migrant workers typically experience wage gains of at least three times their earnings back home, in addition to acquiring new skills and accumulating savings that can be used to start up entrepreneurial activities upon returning home. Remittances sent by migrants while abroad also boost household consumption and support macroeconomic stability in countries of origin.
However, multiple challenges exist that prevent migration from achieving its full development potential. These challenges include high monetary costs, information gaps on employment opportunities in destination countries, a lack of protection while abroad, and high concentrations of migrants in few sectors and destinations. These often prevent the poorest from migrating overseas and may place those who actually migrate in situations of considerable vulnerability.
Building on rigorous analytics, this book highlights policy actions that can be taken at all stages of the migration life cycle, including after return, to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits of migration for migrants themselves, their families, and the home economy. The book provides policy options to address information gaps on employment opportunities overseas at the departure stage, to prepare migrants adequately for their experience overseas, to diversify destinations and occupations abroad, and to maximize the benefits of return migration.