Labour migration in South Asia

Migrant workers at a consturction site. © ILO
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As globalisation takes root, economies based on rural, subsistence agriculture are gradually being replaced by urban, industrial and service economies. This process of economic transformation coupled with demographic dynamics will continue to generate migration flows into urban areas within Asian countries and abroad, especially in South Asia where urbanisation rates are still low. From 2000 to 2010, the number of migrants from South Asia has more than doubled, with an increasing percentage of women also moving independently.

For those who leave, migration is an important livelihood strategy. Their remittances enable those who stay behind to make ends meet. However, in receiving economies, migration is often characterized by high risks and poor employment conditions. Inflows of migrants can generate downward pressure on wages, sub-standard working and living conditions, and create the conditions for forced labour.

The ILO is working with governments in India and across South Asia on policies to reduce the vulnerability of migrants, especially women and girls, in both source and destination countries. These measures include upholding migrants’ rights, and fair recruitment regulations and practices. In source countries they include policies that link migration with human security, local economic development and social protection; and in countries of destination, labour market policies, workers’ rights and access to justice.

Key resources

  1. Climate Change and Human Mobility in Bangladesh

    The policy brief on Climate change and human mobility in Bangladesh intends to gain a better understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change and its impact on human mobility, improve national knowledge, and recommend national actions keeping in mind the nexus between climate change, human mobility and employment.

  2. From India to the Gulf region: Exploring links between labour markets, skills and the migration cycle

    This report examines the linkages between labour demand, its relationship to skills and the impact of the recruitment process on these aspects with a focus on migration from India to the GCC.

  3. ILO Global Estimates on Migrant Workers

    The statistical study provides estimates of the proportion of labour migrant workers among the total number of migrants worldwide. It outlines the regions and industries where international migrant workers are established and includes a specific focus on migrants in domestic work with updated numbers.

  4. Good practices database - Labour migration policies and programmes

    A database of good practices in labour migration policies and programmes over the world

  5. Research Guide for International Labour Migration

    The research guide points you to the most relevant and reliable sources on Labour migration.