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Structural Change, Economic Crisis and International Labour Migration in East Asia

Listed author(s):
  • Chris Manning

Increased international labour migration was one important dimension of structural change and globalisation in East Asia from the mid 1980s. Large international movements of mainly unskilled contract labour occurred in response to widening wage gaps between more and less developed countries in the region as the former experienced rapid structural change. Labour importing countries increasingly relied on unskilled migrant workers in less preferred jobs, in both export-oriented and non-tradable goods industries. The Asian economic crisis dramatically influenced the context in which international labour mobility had occurred in the pre-crisis period. Important issues included a possible reversal in role of international migration in structural change, both among unskilled contract workers and more skilled migrants, and replacement of migrants by unemployed local workers. The paper argues that the Asian economic crisis did not reverse the fundamental trend toward greater reliance on unskilled migrant workers in agriculture, manufacturing and service industries. Business and professional migration remained significant and even rose in some countries during the crisis. However, several countries were forced to develop a more coherent policy towards migrant workers, in light of the social impact of the crisis. Copyright Blackwell Publishers Ltd 2002.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal The World Economy.

Volume (Year): 25 (2002)
Issue (Month): 3 (03)
Pages: 359-385

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Handle: RePEc:bla:worlde:v:25:y:2002:i:3:p:359-385
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