Development Centre

Better integration of immigrant workers would boost the Dominican Republic’s economy, says new ILO-OECD Development Centre report


Santo Domingo, 12 June 2018 -  International migration has been a central part of the Dominican Republic’s development. While the country is a net emigration country with 12% of the population living abroad, it also attracts significant numbers of immigrants, who represent 4% of the Dominican population. The country would benefit from strengthening efforts to integrate immigrants, argues a joint report by the OECD Development Centre and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) titled How Immigrants contribute to the Dominican Republic’s economy.


The report provides an unprecedented analysis of immigrant workers’ contribution in three areas of the Dominican Republic’s economy: labour markets, economic growth and public finance. It shows that the labour market characteristics of immigrants and native-born workers in the Dominican Republic are very different. Immigrants tend to be younger, more economically active and more often employed than native-born individuals. On average, the current immigrant population has lower levels of education than the native-born. This is also reflected in the occupations of immigrants. Foreign-born workers are more likely to have low skilled jobs in sectors with high informality. Half of the immigrants are in elementary occupations and are concentrated in agriculture, commerce and construction.


The analysis also assesses whether the presence of foreign-born workers has benefited or harmed the employment opportunities of native-born Dominican workers. It suggests that immigrants replace native-born workers, in particular among low-skilled men.


Based on the sectoral distribution of workers and their productivity in 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, immigrant workers are estimated to contribute between 3.8% and 5.3% of the value added in the Dominican Republic, which is similar to their share in the population at 4.2%. Immigrants are over-represented in some high and mid-value added sectors such as mining, manufacturing, hotels and restaurants and construction, but also in low value added activities of commerce and agriculture.


According to the report, in 2007, the latest year for which data is available, immigrants made a positive and larger net fiscal contribution than the native-born population. This is because immigrants paid more in indirect taxes but benefitted less from public expenditure on social security benefits, social assistance and education. This result suggests that immigration did not represent a fiscal burden for the Dominican Republic.


Policy recommendations

According to the report, the contribution of immigrants to the Dominican Republic’s economy could be further enhanced by:


  • Ensuring the conditions are in place for everyone to seek employment opportunities. For example, training programmes could help displaced workers to re-skill and move to other occupations and sectors.
  • Reinforcing interinstitutional co-operation and co-ordination. A stronger institutional co-ordination would help implement a coherent agenda between migration and non-migration sectoral policies and enhance the contribution of migration to sustainable development.
  • Paying more attention to integration gaps, reinforce immigrants’ rights included in the 2004 migration law and fight all forms of discrimination. Increasing de facto access to education, health and social security is crucial to ensure better integration and increase the well-being and economic contribution of immigrants.
  • Keeping up investment in data to better assess the economic contribution of migration. An update of the Income and Expenditure Household Survey would allow to evaluate the fiscal contribution of more recent immigrants and assess recent changes.


Background information

The immigration landscape in the Dominican Republic has changed since the beginning of the XXIst century. The number of immigrants has increased drastically, mainly from neighbouring Haiti and Venezuela. The share of immigrants in urban areas has increased; and though most of the foreign-born are men, a feminisation of the immigrant population has started over the last decades.


Migration policies have been adapted to these transformations. Recent advances include the development of the institutional architecture in the 2004 Migration Law, creating organs such as the National Migration Council, the National Migration Institute and the National Migration School. This law was an important step towards improving the institutional management of immigration. Additional initiatives from the government include the Naturalisation Plan and the National Regularisation Plan, that regularised around 250 000 immigrants.


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For more information or to obtain a copy of the report or request an interview, journalists are invited to contact:




How immigrants contribute to the Dominican Republic’s economy is part of the joint International Labour Organisation - OECD Development Centre’s comparative project on Assessing the Economic Contribution of Labour Migration in Developing Countries as Countries of Destination that is co-financed by the European Union. The nine other countries covered by the project include: Argentina, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Kyrgyzstan, Ghana, Nepal, Rwanda, South Africa and Thailand.

Find out more about the project: and




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