Labour Migration in Southeast Asia: The Political Economy of Poor and Uneven Governance

  • Kelly GerardEmail author
  • Charanpal S. Bal
Part of the Studies in the Political Economy of Public Policy book series (PEPP)


This chapter presents a political economy of labour migration in Southeast Asia. It delineates the importance of low-wage and high-wage labour migration to national development and individual livelihoods, then shows that its governance is predominantly shaped by the interests of employers and associated politico-bureaucratic interests, which typically overpower the struggles of migrant workers and their civil society allies. This produces a system geared around official development goals, the management of movement and the deployment of workers, rather than the promotion of workers’ rights and welfare, leaving low-wage migrants open to systematic abuse. High-wage migration regimes also support specific state projects and agendas, generating a highly uneven process of regional “liberalisation” for the ASEAN Economic Community.


Labour migration Regional governance Southeast Asia Civil society 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Social SciencesThe University of Western AustraliaPerthAustralia

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