International migration is at the core of economic and social development in the Philippines. Policy making has evolved from a primary concern to increase overseas employment opportunities to an emphasis on migrant protection and on the linkages with development. The country would benefit from further strengthening its whole-of-government approach to making migration an integral part of its overall development strategies, argues a new report by the OECD Development Centre and the Scalabrini Migration Center (SMC) titled “Interrelations between Public Policies, Migration and Development (IPPMD) in the Philippines.”
The SMC and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) with support from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) hosted the report’s launch today in Manila. Policy makers from several ministries were present. The report examines how migration affects key policy sectors in the Philippines, particularly the labour market, agriculture, education, and investment and financial services. It also analyses how sectoral policies influence different migration outcomes, such as the decision to emigrate and return and remittance patterns.
IPPMD in the Philippines is the result of four years of fieldwork, empirical analysis and policy dialogue. In all, 1 999 households representing about 10 500 individuals and 37 communities were interviewed during this ambitious study, co-funded by the European Union. The findings build on innovative quantitative and qualitative surveys that, for the first time, combine questions related to migration and to public policies. It is part of a larger comparative project involving nine other countries: Armenia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, the Dominican Republic, Georgia, Haiti and Morocco.
The way migration affects development is not straightforward. Through various dimensions – emigration, remittances and return migration – migration has both positive and negative effects on key sectors of the Philippine economy. Similarly, sectoral policies have indirect impacts on migration and its related development outcomes.
One expectation, for example, is that investing in vocational training might reduce migration outflows. Yet, the report shows that in the Philippines the share of people planning to emigrate is higher amongst those who benefit from vocational training. When the training does not match the needs of the local labour market, beneficiaries tend to look for employment opportunities abroad. In contrast, when government employment agencies provide better information on domestic job opportunities, they improve the functioning of a country’s labour markets, which tends to curb emigration.
The amount of remittances flowing into the Philippines is significant, accounting for 10% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). According to the IPPMD data and analysis, this income is mostly used to invest in education. The use of remittances for productive investment, however, appears to be limited in the Philippines. Households receiving remittances are not more likely to own a business than non-remittance receiving households. This may be explained by insufficient access to financial services and the lack of financial literacy. Less than half of the households surveyed had a bank account. Only about 5% of surveyed households benefited from a financial training programme.
Overall, the IPPMD Philippines report concludes that migration can benefit the country’s economic and social development, but its potential is not yet fully realised. To make the most of migration, policy makers should aim to create an environment where Filipinos migrate by choice, and where those who migrate can positively contribute to the development of both the Philippines and their countries of destination. A more coherent policy agenda requires that policy makers avoid operating in silos and do more to integrate migration into the Philippines’ national development strategies. This involves not only adopting specific initiatives focused on migration and development, but also including migration in the design, implementation and evaluation of all relevant sectoral policies.
For more information on the IPPMD project, please visit: http://www.oecd.org/dev/migration-development/ippmd.htm.
Requests for interviews or a copy of the report should be directed to Hyeshin Park (firstname.lastname@example.org ; +33 (0)1 45 24 95 84) at the OECD Development Centre.