Public employment programmes may be associated with higher emigration

The National Social Protection Strategy for the Poor and vulnerable (NSPS) is one of Cambodia's main policies aiming to give the poor and vulnerable access to food, sanitation, water, shelter and employment (CARD, 2011). Various public employment programmes (PEPs) - e.g food-for-work and cash-for-work schemes - have been implemented to provide work opportunities for the poor and vulnerable, while also helping to improve physical infrastructure and human capital in communities. These programmes are funded by the government and its development partners.

PEPs can either increase or decrease the incentives to migrate. Programmes which improve local employment opportunities may encourage people to stay. In rural areas in particular, public works programmes for agricultural workers during the farming off-season can provide an alternative to seasonal migration. On the other hand, the increased income received from cash-for- work programmes can help people afford to migrate. Overall, the impact of PEPs on migration is likely to depend on their duration, coverage and income level.

Results of the IPPMD household survey in Cambodia indicate low participation in these cash-for-work and food-for-work programmes among employed and unemployed people (3%). They are more popular among people in rural areas (4%). People from emigrant households are slightly more likely to have benefited from these programmes than those from non-migrant households (4% vs. 3%). While further analysis cannot be made due to the small sample size, this pattern also reflects the findings of the community survey. Of the surveyed communities, 21% offered public employment programmes. The average share of households with emigrants is higher in the communities with public employment programmes (25%) than those without (21%).

Box 5.1. The links between vocational training programmes and plans to emigrate

To investigate the link between participation in vocational training programmes and having plans to emigrate, the following probit model was used:

where plan _ migj represents whether individual i has a plan to emigrate in the future. It is a binary variable and takes a value of 1 if the person is planning to leave the country. voc_trainingj is the variable of interest and represents a binary variable indicating if the individual participated in a vocational training programmes in the five years prior to the survey. controlsi stands for a set of control variables at the individual level and controlshh for household level controls.3 Sr implies regional fixed effects and e; is the randomly distributed error term. The model has been tested for two different groups: men and women. The coefficients of variables of interest are shown in Table 5.2.

Table 5.2. Vocational training programmes are not associated with plans to emigrate

Dependent variable: Individual has a plan to emigrate

Main variables of interest: Individual participated in a vocational training programme Type of model: Probit

Sample: Labour force in working age (15-64)

Variables of interest





Individual participated in a vocational




training programme




Household has at least one emigrant







Individual is unemployed







Number of observations

4 230

2 035

2 195

Note: Results that are statistically significant are indicated as follows: ***: 99%, **: 95%, *: 90%. Standard errors in parentheses.

a. Control variables include age, sex, education level of individuals and whether the individual is unemployed or not. At the household level, the household's size and its squared value, the dependency ratio, its wealth indicator and its squared value are controlled. Whether the household has an emigrant or not is also controlled.

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