Brunei Darussalam: Female Labour Force Participation and Foreign Domestic Workers

  • Wako AsatoEmail author
Part of the Asia in Transition book series (AT, volume 8)


This chapter analyses the characteristics of citizenship composition and migration policies of Brunei Darussalam, paying particular attention to foreign domestic workers (FDWs) and examining how migrants function in the local labour market. Research on FDWs in East and Southeast Asia is not uncommon, though little attention has been paid to Brunei. This does not mean that the presence of FDWs there is negligible. Indeed, the proportion of migrants employed in the workforce and the proportion of FDWs per capita in the country may be the highest in the region. However, this level of dependence on foreign workers, which is common in rentier and developmental states, has become controversial as governments seek to nationalise their workforces to avoid local unemployment. Though Brunei is often portrayed as a typical rentier state, it is unique in several aspects: it has relatively high female labour force participation; a high number of female professionals and managers; and there is no gender pay gap among local people. All these are characteristics of a developmental state. It could be argued that the higher wages enjoyed by local women and their participation in the workforce are made possible partly by the employment of FDWs who take on domestic duties with low economic value, while their employers develop their own career paths that produce much higher value. Labour reforms have not necessarily changed these conditions due to the often ambiguous and indefinite coverage of migrant workers under Brunei’s Employment Order 2009 and the unilateral implementation of a minimum wage.


Brunei Darussalam Foreign domestic workers Rentier state Developmental state Migration 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Transcultural Studies, Graduate School of LettersKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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