Labor Mobility

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Overview

With intensifying globalization, reinforced by demographic changes, international labor mobility has been on the rise in recent decades in the Asia Pacific region. In fact, labor flows have played a pivotal role in the economic transformation of East Asia. A World Bank study estimates that the number of migrants doubled or even tripled in most net-labor importing countries between the early 1980s and 1997, with some 2 million foreign workers now employed in Northeast Asia and 3-4 million employed in Southeast Asia. Demographic and economic projections show that labor migration in the region is likely to accelerate with significant business implications.

Economic analyses show that the international movement of labor benefits both the labor-sending and labor-receiving economies, not to mention the migrants themselves. However, such flows tend to entail serious political and social problems in both types of economies while also causing international tensions. They should, therefore, be managed carefully at the national level in each economy as well as internationally.

There, however, is as of yet no international policy regime on labor migration in the Asia Pacific region although international organizations, such as the World Bank, IOM (International Organization for Migration), ILO (International Labor Organisation), and OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) have been conducting studies and seminars as well as establishing principles and norms at the global level.

The output from this project will consist of economic case studies, sub-regional synthesis reports on Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Australasia, and the (Pacific) Americas, as well as a synthesis report.

 


Project Team

The project is a joint effort between the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) and the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC).

Project Coordinator

Dr Soogil Young, Chair, KOPEC and President, National Strategy Institute, Korea.

Lead Author

Prof Graeme Hugo, Professor of the Department of Geographical and Environmental Studies and Director of the National Centre for Social Applications of Geographic Information Systems at the University of Adelaide.

Synthesis Authors

  • Northeast Asia: Dr. Jai-Joon Hur, Senior Fellow, Korea Labor Institute.
  • Southeast Asia: Dr. Chia Siow Yue, a Senior Fellow at Singapore Institute of International Affairs.
  • Australasia: Professor Graeme Hugo, Federation Fellow and Professor of Geography, University of Adelaide.
  • Pacific Americas: Dr. Sherry Stephenson, Organization of American States (OAS)

The project team's report will be based on case studies by authors selected by PECC member committees.

Events

PECC-ABAC Conference
Demographic Change and International Labor Mobility in the Asia Pacific Region: Implications for Business and Cooperation

Hosted by KOPEC in collaboration with the Korea Labor Institute

Date and time
25-26 March 2008

Venue
Seoul, Korea

 

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Labour Mobility

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Media

Financial Times: The new melting pot: Asia immigration series

The Economist: Special Report on Migration


Resarch

OECD - "International Migration Outlook" (2007)

Pang Eng Fong and Christiane Kuptsch: "Competing for Global Talent", International Institute for Labor Studies (2006)

Prema-chandra Athukorala: "International Labour Migration in East Asia: trends, patterns and policy issues"

Asian-Pacific Economic Literature, Volume 20 Issue 1, May 2006, Blackwell (2006)

Winters, Alan, ‘Developing Country Proposals for the Liberalisation of Movements of Natural Service Suppliers’, Development Research Centre on Migration, Globalisation and
Poverty Working Paper T8, (2005, University Sussex)

Yongyuth, Chalamwong, ‘The migration of highly skilled Asian workers to OECD countries and its effects on economic development in East Asia’ in ‘Policy Coherence Towards East Asia: Development Challenges for OECD Countries’ (2005, OECD)

Nielson, Julia, ‘Current Regimes for Temporary Movement of Service Providers- Labour Mobility in Regional Trade Agreements’, paper presented at Joint WTO-World Bank symposium on movement of natural persons (mode 4) under the GATS(2002, OECD)

Jurado, Gonzalo, ‘Labor Mobility Issues in the Asia-Pacific Region’ , Philippine APEC Study Center Network, PASCN Discussion Paper No. 99-01 (1999, PIDS)

Farrell, Diana et al, ‘The Emerging Global Labor Market’, (2005, McKinsey Global Institute)

Lee, Mei Ling Sieh, and Ong, Fon Sim , ‘The Movement of People in the Asia Pacific Region’, in ‘Reshaping the Asia Pacific Economic Order’, Christopher Findlay and Hadi Soesastro (2006, Routledge)

Bimal Ghosh: "Managing Migration: Time for a New International Regime?" Oxford University Press (2000)