Female labour migration in Thailand
Thailand is an agricultural country, so most of the employment is concentrated in the agricultural sector (41.1 percent of the labour force in 2011 was working in this sector). The development of the country's economy still depends on agricultural production. However, Thailand's National Economic and Social Development Strategic plan focuses on the growth of the country's development such as the GDP , infrastructure, transportation and construction. These are the reasons why workers prefer to work in urban rather than rural areas. Therefore, farmers, especially women who are in agricultural sector, move to the cities with high expectations of better economic opportunities. People also have increasingly more opportunities to study. The younger generation is among the one that thinks that the agricultural sector is hard work, with uncertain income and unsecure welfare, and therfore prefers to work in the industry and service sectors.
Rate in agriculture and non-agricultural work.
Source: National Statistical Office (2011), Survey of Working, 1990-2011
The above chart demonstrates that the working pattern of the Thai workforce has definitely changed. Most of the workers have moved from the agricultural sector to the non-agricultural sector since Thailand faced the economic crisis in 1997, when the number of workers in the agricultural sector and those in the non-agricultural sector was not that different (16.5 million). In 1998, following the economic crisis and as the economy began to recover, many workers returned to work in the agricultural sector, which increased the number of non-agricultural workers again. Since 1999, the non-agricultural workers are the majority of wokers in the agricultural sector. The differences are more striking. If the trend continues, we estimate that if an agricultural country like Thailand wants to keep its name of the "World’s Kitchen", the country may have to rely on migrant workers more to replace the missing Thai workers in the agricultural sector. This issue of potential labour shortage needs to be seriously considered by Thailand, also to prevent ensuing problems such as illegal migration, crime and epidemics.
The story of Somsri
Somsri is one of many women that moved from the province of Roi Et, in Northeastern Thailand to work in the city. She used to have a land, a house and worked in the agricultural sector, but due to severe drought repetitions and as it was becoming difficult to perceive a regular income, she decided to start a business selling noodles in Bangkok. She thought that moving to the city would improve her living conditions. Now she says that she enjoys a good living standard in Bangkok, but she misses her home. As soon as she has gathered enough savings, she says she would like to return home. However, Somsri is just one example of several hundred families that think about working in the capital city to make their lives better and improve the well-being of their families.
Female labour migration from rural to urban areas
The information above demonstrated how quickly the values and attitudes of people who live in the country today changed, as more and more workers come to seek a job in the city. There is a number of sectors such as manufacturing, the industrial sector and trade that continue to grow. This type of work requires delicate care and does not require as much effort as the type of work that can be found in the agricultural sector, so women are able to find employment relatively easily.
Reasons why women want to move to urban areas
- Quality of life: a good income is needed to sustain a good standard of life, and the city offers more opportunities to achieve this.
- Education: most workers who are in the agricultural sector have a relatively low level of education. By moving to the cities, women have more opportunities to complete their education.
- The age of the workforce: The older generation remains in the village and they are not able to make a living alone. So by moving to the cities, the younger generation of the same family helps their parents and grand-parents to have enjoy good living standard.
- The attitude of people: young people find work in the agricultural sector to be very hard and prefer to find easier work in the cities. Therefore, it is inevitable for women to play a role in the labour market as much as men.
The impact of female labour migration
The effect of moving residents out of the rural economy
Income coming from remittances is sent back to the original local population, which has a positive consequence on the distribution of income among the rural population.
The impact on the economy
- Unemployment and under-employment: due to the high level of female migration to the cities, there is an over-supply of labour. In addition, many employers are using technology advances to substitute female labour, which has led to higher unemployment levels. Furthermore, since many migrant women are unskilled workers, they have to accept lower wages. This often leads women to demonstrate and call strikes in order to ask for higher wages.
- The issue of housing and urban congestion: migrant workers first start off in the city by living with relatives or friends until they find work and have enough savings to live on their own. Some workers have gathered to live in slum areas, having no family or friends in the cities.
- The homeless: women immigrants who are unemployed face extreme poverty conditions. They decide to live in the street and beg for money, which can sometimes lead to substantial income, in which case they decide to keep doing it and lose interest in finding a job.
- Crime: some migrant women have no job or income, which means that they resort to robbery and theft acts.
- Drugs, Slums and ghettos: the younger generation of those living in slum areas can become addicted to drugs and some of them decide to enter the drug trade and make it a career.
- Prostitution: women who migrate to cities want some of the work that is easy and pays well. Some of them become prostitutes, as well as working as a waitress in a restaurant, an employee in a massage parlor, a beautician, for example.
- Public health: Due to drugs and prostitution, the population is more exposed to drug addiction and venereal diseases such as HIV AIDS .
- The family: both women and men who move into the capital will send money back to their families in the rural areas, while their children are looked after by the grand-parents. But some workers do not send back remittances, which can cause problems for their children and family.
The migration of women workers from rural areas to cities: some solutions
- To reduce the unemployment rate and the migration of women workers, the government should use fiscal and monetary measures to develop the skills of workers to meet the needs of firms in the community properly. This would also ensure that the workers are paid fairly.
- Promotion of social security measures. Expanding the scope of the welfare of labor. In particular, the protection of children and women, the health, safety protection systems and in the workplace.
- Implement measures to protect women from being exploited by brokers and employers, especially in terms of the minimum wage.
- Filipina Migration
- Women migrants' remittances
- Migrant Workers in Latin America
- Migration: a gender perspective
- Wikigender University: Srinakharinwirot University
- ↑ Thailand's progress in agriculture: Managing transition and sustaining productivity growth ODI website,(2010) Retrieved 24 July 2012
- ↑ Retrieved 25 July 2012
- ↑ Retrieved 25 July 2012
- ↑ National Statistical Office Thailand,(2003) Retrieved 26 July 2012
- ↑ National Statistical Office Thailand,(2003) Land ownersRetrieved 26 July 2012
- ↑ HIV & AIDS in Thailand Retrieved 26 July 2012
Department of Employment. (2012). Labor Statistic. ,available at http://www.doe.go.th/index1.php
The members of ECS 485 Group 10 are:
1. Miss Kedsara Lathon
2. Miss Bengawan Joyjinda
3. MissWannaporn Junjang
4. Mr.Nanthapong Nillapong
5. MissJariya Phiaphengton
6. MissWachiraporn Noicharoen
7. MissWoralak Ngenruangrotn
- Wikigender University student article Thailand, School of Economics and Public Policy, Srinakharinwirot University.