|Emigration Pressures and Structural Change. Case Study of the Philippines (International Labour Organization, 1997, 56 p.)|
The Philippine economy has been through an extended stretch of virtual stagnation. Unemployment levels rose steadily, and poverty increased, or continued to persist at high levels. There are signs that recovery is underway, and that the country is taking its first tentative steps on a trajectory of moderate growth. But there are also clear signals of the vulnerability and brittleness of this change. There are two dimensions to consider. The first concerns the very low rates of domestic savings and the correspondingly high dependence on external funds to meet the trade and current account balances. Given the weakness of the authorities on the fiscal side, and the scaring-away effects that any serious attempts at domestic resource mobilisation might have, this volatile gap is potentially capable of undermining the new growth process. The second concerns the employment outcomes of growth. Paradoxically, the past lengthy period of relative stagnation posted remarkably high figures for the elasticity of employment with respect to GDP growth. Labour force participation rates also rose. However, along with this, real earnings fell steadily, while the incidence of poverty increased. This pattern was somewhat involutionary in nature, with the poorer sections of the population offering themselves increasingly to work for relatively lower reward. Not surprisingly, these trends implied plummeting indices for labour productivity in virtually all sectors of the economy. These were expressions of survival strategies in the labour market. It is sobering to note that the rate of growth of the labour force, as well as the labour force participation rates are forecast to increase steadily in the foreseeable future. Against this, the likely employment outcomes of future growth, even on relatively optimistic projections, are at best only likely to keep up with the growth of labour supply. Both the external sector, as well as the labour market issues underscore the relationship of the migration phenomenon to sustained macro-economic recovery and growth.
This paper attempts to unravel some of the complexities of the Filipino experience of international migration. It addresses the question of whether emigration pressures are becoming stronger and, if so, for what reasons. It focuses specially on a vital, but unexplored, question regarding the relationship between international migration and poverty. The articulation of domestic and international migration circuits is analysed. The final section then identifies and evaluates various policy alternatives.