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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  News & Events  /  News  /  News Archive  /  2017  /  January 2017  /  Labour Migration from Myanmar

Labour Migration from Myanmar

Alex Ma writes on ‘Remittances, Reforms, and Challenges’

Labour Migration from Myanmar

More Burmese are leaving Myanmar to work overseas than ever before, leading to a boom in international remittance receipts.

As the country emerges from decades of political isolation, regional integration and the growth of migration brokers have supported a rapid outflow of labour migrants to increasingly diverse destinations.

In an article published in the Migration Policy Institute’s journal, Migration Information Source, Alex Ma, a PhD researcher in UCL Geography, highlights the key trends, drivers and issues associated with contemporary overseas Burmese labour migration, as well as related economic reforms in the Burmese administration and attempts to formalise remittance flows.

Using Singapore as a case study, Alex finds that:

  1. Informal financial services still dominate the Singapore-Myanmar remittance corridor; the majority of remittances are sent through hundi agents.
  2. Migration means and methods into Singapore are highly gendered. Debt plays a prominent role in facilitating migration but also affects men and women differently.
  3. Overseas Burmese labour migration occurs largely in a regulatory vacuum. This has allowed the private sector of migration intermediaries and brokers to operate with little scrutiny of migrant welfare.

For the article, see:


Figure: Annual Remittance Flows to Myanmar (US $), 1970-2014 (Source: Migration Policy Institute (MPI) tabulations of data from the World Bank Prospects Group, “Annual Remittances Data—April 2016 update”)

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