Is sending workers abroad good for economy, society?

Vietnamese guest workers help their families financially as well as make a significant contribution to the country’s economy by remitting US$1.8 billion annually. But there are many social concerns that this migration raises.

Vietnamese guest workers prepare to go abroad

Is sending workers abroad a good way to improve the lives of the poor? How do they fare after returning home and what are the implications on families? A Canadian NGO collaborated with the Center for the Study of Women to do a study.
The NGO, HealthBridge Canada, studied the impact of this phenomenon on family life in the northern province of Thai Binh.
Thai Binh was one of the earliest to send workers abroad and still accounts for the most number of people working abroad. It sends 2,500-3,000 every year, most of them women, who sent remittances of US$45 million in 2003-05.
With the families of guest workers generally thriving, farmers around the country are keen to go abroad to work.
But, after returning home, many of them do not want to work on the field any more. They prefer cushy jobs or go abroad again.
The study found that over 80 percent of Thai Binh’s women workers who went abroad want to continue to work abroad since their families have benefited.
It also found that, upon returning, only 2.4 percent of those found a good job using skills they acquired abroad and 23.3 percent established their own business using the money they earned abroad.
Most of the others spent all their earnings on building houses and buying things like motorbikes and TV sets.
The social aspect is a bit more troubling -- many marriages broke up since living far away each other meant both spouses were likely to be unfaithful.
The study said 3.7 percent of male and 1.8 percent of female workers separated soon after they returned home because their lifestyles had changed, they had more money than their spouse, or had another partner.
Guest workers’ children too are affected since they have to live with one parent when the other is abroad and often see their parents divorce.
In some cases, when mothers work abroad, fathers do not take good care of their children but instead spend their wives’ money drinking, gambling and having affairs.
The report said 87 percent of husbands and 80 percent of wives said they are emotionally deprived when their spouse is abroad, 60 percent said they love their spouse more after a long period of separation.
A small proportion of women -- 2.5 percent -- admitted they slept around either at home or abroad and had an illegitimate child or children. 

By Quang Phuong – Translated by Hoang Yen

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