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Research Project on

Labour Mobility And Job Changes

Researchers: Dr Evi Nurvidya Arifin
Asian MetaCentre for Population and
Sustainable Development Analysis

Aris Ananta
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

Funded by: The Wellcome Trust


Labour migration has been seen as a mechanism to improve the welfare of the individual and/ or the family through changing jobs. This study examines whether job changes among migrants is a survival strategy or an upward mobility to cope with the crisis.

The study uses a small, rich data set collected by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Republic of Indonesia in August 1998, the worst time of the Indonesian crisis. A multilevel statistical analysis is used in order to take into account the important impact of clustering in migratory behaviour. It is a case study and hence the results may not necessarily reflect the condition of Indonesia as a whole.

The study concludes that migration as a survival strategy has been adopted by those who worked in the manufacturing, formal sectors, and white collar jobs. They had large probabilities of experiencing downward mobility but their financial condition might not be too severe. They could afford “not working” and waiting for better opportunities. Severance pay, wealth, social safety net program, and contribution from friends and relatives are key contributory factors for this phenomenon.

On the other hand, those who worked in the agriculture, informal sector, blue-collar jobs including those who were jobless might not have experienced upward mobility, but they did not suffer downward mobility either. Social safety net programs during the crisis could have helped these groups. Their financial condition might not be as good as those working in manufacturing sectors, formal sectors, or white- collar jobs, but they could have been better than before they migrated. Incidences of upward mobility could even be seen, particularly movements from the informal sector to formal sector.


Results presented at the XXIV IUSSP General Population Conference, Salvador, Brazil, 18-24 August 2001. Paper under review for publication in Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Research Paper Series.




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