Labour Migration and the Economic Sustainability in Thailand

Piriya Pholphirul


Migration is one of the top debate topics in terms of the national policy agendas of middle-income countries, and Thailand is no exception. The segmentation of its labour market explains why Thailand is experiencing large-scale immigration and a simultaneous emigration of low-skilled workers. Immigration inflows from its less-developed neighbour countries – namely, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar – pose a challenge for Thailand. Wage differentials between Thailand and other migrant-receiving countries, which are mostly more economically developed than Thailand, also stimu-late emigration from there. Due to regional disparities within the country and to a lack of employment and educational opportunities in rural areas, internal migration is also common and encouraged. In this paper I first analyse the economic pros and cons of migration both to and within Thailand before formulating labour migration policies that aim to maximize beneficial outcomes while minimizing economic costs. The cost–benefit analysis of labour migration is key to addressing relevant gaps in formulating and implementing effective policies.

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