What does the report tell us about the links between migration and development?

The findings of this report suggest that the development potential embodied in migration is not being fully exploited in Cambodia. Taking migration into account in a range of various policy areas can allow this potential to be tapped. The report demonstrates the two-way relationship between migration and public policies by analysing how migration affects key sectors - the labour market, agriculture, education, and investment and financial services (Chapter 4) - and how it is influenced by policies in these sectors (Chapter 5).

Labour market policies are doing little to stem emigration

Losing labour to emigration can have a significant impact on certain economic sectors, especially as migrants are often in the most productive years of their lives. More than 80% of the current emigrants in the data collected on Cambodia are between the ages of 15 and 34. Agriculture is clearly losing more labour to emigration than other sectors such as construction, education and health. This theme was highlighted in the stakeholder interviews, too. The reduced labour supply has led to a shortage of Cambodian agricultural workers, particularly on rice farms and during the harvest seasons.

Migration changes the labour dynamics within households, too. Households with emigrants tend to have a lower share of working members than households without emigrants; this effect is strongest in agricultural households. This suggests that emigrants' labour is not being replaced during their absence. Receiving remittances also negatively affects households' labour force participation. Women, in particular, are less likely to work when their households receive remittances (Figure 1.5).

What is the influence of labour market policies on migration? The IPPMD research finds that government employment agencies tend to curb emigration by providing people with better information on the Cambodian labour market. However, the share of people in the sample finding work through these agencies is low - at 4%.

Technical and vocational education and training (TVET) are seen in Cambodia as key tools to improve skills, and are highlighted in the 2015-2025 National Employment Policy. The IPPMD survey finds, however, that only 5% of the surveyed labour force had participated in a vocational training programme - mainly on agricultural themes. While in some countries in the IPPMD study, vocational training programmes appear to be helping would-be migrants be more employable overseas, the Cambodia results show no evidence of links between vocational training programmes and plans to emigrate.

Figure 1.5. Households receiving remittances have fewer working members

Share of household members aged 15-64 who are working

Note: The sample excludes households with return migrants only.

Source: Authors’ own work based on IPPMD data.

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On the other hand, public employment programmes (PEPs) - e.g food-for- work and cash-for-work schemes - seem to have a link with higher emigration. The average share of households with emigrants is higher in communities which offered PEPs than in those that did not. The increased income received through PEPs may have financed emigration by household members.

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