Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/63080
Type: Thesis
Title: Economic and social impacts of the migration of Sri Lankan transnational domestic workers on families and children left behind.
Author: Ukwatta, Swarnalatha
Issue Date: 2010
School/Discipline: School of Social Sciences
Abstract: Some of the world's largest flows of temporary migrant workers originate in Asian countries. Almost all of these migration flows involve the separation of the migrant from their families whether extended or nuclear. Consequently, transnational families in which one or more members are out of the country for several years are increasingly common in the Asian region. Moreover, there are increasing numbers of migrant families with one or both parents being overseas for work for a significant part of the growing up of their children. In the Asian region, a large proportion of absent mothers are found in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. While the issue of the families and children left behind by migrant women has been intensively studied from a number of perspectives in the Asian Region, especially in the Philippines, it remains under-researched and indeed little understood in Sri Lanka, which is one of the major suppliers of overseas domestic workers. Currently, the Sri Lankan government faces a dilemma. On one hand, remittances from overseas migrant workers overseas are the second largest source of foreign export earnings, and 60 per cent of this is from the migrants in Middle East countries where the majority of domestic workers are employed. On the other hand, there is a growing concern with the social effects of that movement on the children left behind by migrant women. Some countries in the region have banned the deployment of women migrant workers, but this has simply channelled them into undocumented flows. Although the government of Sri Lanka had several discussions to restrict the migration of females, it was found such a decision would be unworkable. A virtual vacuum of empirical evidence regarding the effects of the absence of mothers on their families and children left behind is recognised. Therefore, by examining how the families and children left behind are influenced by the migration of the “light of the home”, this thesis provides valuable information that is urgently required by policy makers. The thesis reports on a field survey of 400 Sri Lankan families where the mother has gone to work in a foreign country as a domestic worker and detailed discussions with key stakeholders in the study area. It examines the effects of the migration of domestic workers on the economic and social situation of their families and children. On one hand, the effects of increased money on the overall economic well-being of their families and the education of children are positive. On the other hand, there are several negative impacts on the behavioural patterns and health of the children left behind and the family as a whole. This study also reports on the arrangements that are made by the migrant women for taking care of the children while they are away and how they maintain intimacy with their families from a distance. Differences in the impacts are investigated between urban, rural, and estate based households as well as according to the demographic and socio-economic characteristics of the migrants. In addition, the thesis discusses the demographic and socio-economic context of Sri Lanka and the improvement in socio-economic levels and international migration patterns of females to provide a comprehensive picture of domestic worker migration. It also develops a theoretical framework of transnational domestic worker migration in Sri Lanka. Finally, it explores some of the policy implications of the findings, and suggests some recommendations in maximising the positive effects and minimising the negative effects of women‟s migration on families and children. It further argues that there is a need to explore best practice models, which support the families of migrant workers but also facilitate regular intimate contact between migrant and family while gaining economic advantages of migration. There is every indication that migration of this type will continue and indeed increase as the drivers of it are intensifying, and banning the movement of women domestics has been attempted in several Asian contexts with negative results for the women involved.
Advisor: Hugo, Graeme John
Rudd, Dianne M.
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of Social Sciences, 2010
Keywords: female migration; domestic workers; impacts of migration; families and children
Provenance: Copyright material removed from digital thesis. See print copy in University of Adelaide Library for full text.
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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