Philippines Report Tracks Rise of Migration

IOM Development Fund


Philippines - IOM and partners have issued the first Country Migration Report for the Philippines which gives a comprehensive overview of past and current trends in this most migratory of countries. It is the 40th such country report to be issued globally by IOM, helping to shape an overall picture of global human mobility.

The report looks back on four decades of migration of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs.) It notes that numbers have more than doubled in the past ten years, with 2012 believed to be the peak year surpassing 2011’s record of 1,850,463. An interesting characteristic is the increasing proportion of rehires (63 per cent) among land based workers.

The number of seafaring migrants has increased by 75 per cent in the past 10 years, but the growth has been most rapid since 2008, with an extra 100,000 going to sea.

Over 70 per cent of OFWs are between 25 and 44 years of age. Women outnumber men in the annual outflow, accounting for up to 60 per cent of migrants, and they tend to be younger. OFWs who are over 40 are mostly men.

The report notes that overseas employment is mostly arranged by some 1,300 private recruitment agencies. Although other forms of recruitment are available, most OFWs—between 85 and 95 per cent—are recruited by employment agencies. Government to government recruitment arrangements have been limited mostly to the Republic of Korea and Saudi Arabia.

Some eight million OFWs have participated in the overseas employment programme of the Philippines government since it started in the 1970s. Most of them benefit economically and have a positive experience.

But many experience hardship, take risks and are vulnerable, notably women in domestic work and other less-skilled jobs. To help migrants in distress, the Philippines has set up mechanisms to promote protection.

Migration is often for family reasons and the family is the most direct beneficiary, according to the report. Migrants’ families show resilience to the stress generated by migration thanks to the role played by the extended family.

The 291-page report makes a raft of recommendations. They include the need to:

  • Focus on national development to eventually render overseas employment as a genuine option, rather than a no-choice necessity.
  • Develop a migration and development lens at local government level to engage migrants, diaspora communities and their families in realizing the potential of migration to contribute to the development needs of their provinces.
  • Focus on the implementation of existing norms, rather than increasing regulation.
  • Increase the preparation of government officers involved in the governance of migration.
  • Facilitate the formation of business communities among permanent migrants.
  • Strengthen links with the Filipino diaspora.
  • Provide channels of information to migrants concerning local development projects.
  • Offer innovative opportunities for investment and ensure that migrants possess the financial literacy necessary to start their own economic activities.
  • Provide access to favourable credit schemes to migrants and their families, using remittances as collateral.

"Country migration profiles, like this are an essential tool for policymakers. Without reliable facts and analysis it is impossible to craft good policies that will ensure that migrants are treated well and that the fruits of their labour will go to support their families and communities at home," said IOM Philippines Chief of Mission Marco Boasso.

The report, largely authored by the Manila-based Scalabrini Migration Center, was drafted in cooperation with 30 contributing organizations, including the Department of Labor & Employment, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration and the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.  The Country Migration Report for the Philippines was funded by the IOM Development Fund and is available here.

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For more information please contact

Ricardo Casco
IOM Philippines