What do the surveys tell us about migration in Cambodia?

The migration dimensions of emigration and return were left to chance when sampling migrant households; therefore their numbers reflect their relative importance. Figure 3.2 shows the prevalence of emigrant and return migrants by province, based on the household data. It shows differences across provinces. The province of Kampong Thom, for instance, has a relatively larger sample of return migrants, whereas their share in Oddar Meanchey is much smaller.

Figure 3.2. Rates of emigration and return migration vary across provinces

Share of emigrant and return migrant households among migrant households

Source: Authors’ own work based on IPPMD data.

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Overall, the 2 000 household surveys collected data on 9 020 individuals, as well as on another 1 483 former household members who had emigrated. A total of 816 households had former members who had emigrated: 41% of all households in the sample (Figure 3.3, left-hand pie chart). Among the individuals currently living in the country, 409 were return migrants, and specific data about their migration experience were also collected. The 282 households with return migrants formed 14% of all households in the sample (Figure 3.3, right-hand pie chart). Ninety-nine households (5% of the sample) have both emigrants (one or more) and return migrants (one or more).

Figure 3.3. Sampled households were more likely to have an emigrant than a return migrant

Type of households, by migration experience

Source: Authors’ own work based on IPPMD data.

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Table 3.4 shows how household characteristics differ depending on their migration experience. About 81% of all households are in rural areas, and this rural share is reflected across all migrant households except for a slightly lower share of those with return migrants. Households with emigrants have typically fewer members than other households, which is not surprising given that they have lost at least one member. Households with return migrants are the largest households, due to the migrant who has returned but also because they have the highest share of households with children. The share of households with a female household head is highest among households with emigrants, which, at 42%, is more than double the percentage found in households without migrants.

This is not surprising given that 60% of emigrants are men. Among households with return migrants, the percentage of households with a female household head is 32%. Households without migration experience are more likely to have a member who has completed at least lower secondary education.

For the purpose of this project, a household-level wealth indicator was constructed based on questions in the household survey on the number of assets owned by the household. Assets include a range of items, from cell phones to real estate. The wealth indicator was created using principal component analysis. It suggests that households without migration experience tend to be wealthier.

Table 3.4. Households without migration experience are on average better educated and wealthier than migrant households

Characteristics of sampled households

Total sample

Households

Households with

Households receiving

Households

without migrants

emigrants

remittances

with returnees

Number of households

2 000

1 001 (50%)

816 (41%)

819 (41%)

282 (14%)

Households in rural area (%)

1 620 (81%)

811 (81%)

667 (81%)

666 (81%)

218 (77%)

Household size

4.5

4.5

4.3

4.4

5.1

Dependency ratio

0.81

0.71

0.94

0.96

0.84

Households with children

74

71

75

77

79

(0-14 years, %)

Households with female household head (%)

29

19

42

41

32

Share of households with a member

33

40

25

26

30

having completed at least lower secondary education (%)

Wealth indicator

15.0

16.2

14.0

14.5

13.4

Households with member planning to emigrate (%)

21

17

21

22

45

Note: The categories are not mutually exclusive, e.g. a household with both an emigrant and a return migrant is included both as a household with an emigrant, and as a household with a return migrant. The dependency ratio is the number of children and elderly persons over the number of people of working age (15-64). The share of households with a member planning to emigrate is based on a direct question to all adults (15 years or older) whether or not they have plans to live and or work in another country in the future. The wealth indicator is standardised ranging from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating wealthier households.

Source: Authors’ own work based on IPPMD data.

The household survey also asked whether individual household members aged 15 or over planned to emigrate. The data show that plans to emigrate are more prevalent in migrant households, and are highest among households with return migrants (45%; Table 3.4). A large part of this share can be attributed to return migrants themselves, 34% of whom planned to emigrate again within the next 12 months compared to 5% among non-migrants.

Table 3.5 summarises the characteristics of individuals from the sampled households, broken down by whether they are emigrants, return migrants or individuals without migration experience. The non-migrants are the oldest group, with an average age of 40, compared to return migrants (32) and emigrants (27). Women made up 53% of the overall sample. While emigration seems to be a male-dominated phenomenon (60% are men), return migration is more gender- balanced with an equal share of men and women.

Table 3.5. Emigrants are more likely to be male

Characteristics of adults from sampled households

Non-migrants

Return migrants

Emigrants

Number of individuals

5 672

409

1 483

Average age

40

32

27

Share of women (%)

55.3

49.1

39.9

Share that completed at least lower secondary education (%)

17.8

11.8

17.1

Note: Only adults (15+) are included. The group of non-migrants includes individuals in households with and without migrants.

Source: Authors’ own work based on IPPMD data.

Among individuals without migration experience, 18% have finished at least lower secondary education. The share is similar for emigrants (17%), while only 12% of returned migrants have completed at least lower secondary education.

 
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