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Kenya among 50 middle-income nations employing 16 million migrants – ILO – The Star, Kenya


Kenya has been grouped among 50 lower middle income countries in the world that have employed 16.6 million migrants, majority of them men.

The latest International Labour Organisation report released on Wednesday reveals the number of migrants looking for jobs globally rose to 95.7 million for men and 68.7 million for women last year.

The ILO report titled Global Estimates on International Migrant Workers covered 189 countries. It states discrimination against women in securing jobs in destination countries contributes to their lower number among migrants.

High income countries such as France recorded the highest number of migrant workers of 111.2 million, upper middle income have 30.5 million and 5.6 million for low income nations such as Chad, Burundi and Afghanistan.

“Societal stigmatisation, the discriminatory impact of policies and legislation, violence and harassment not only undermine women’s access to decent work but can also result in low pay, the absence of equal pay and the undervaluation of female-dominated sectors,” reads the 78-page report.

It adds that moving to reunite with their families is part of the reason women migrate to other countries compared to men who move in search of greener pastures.

The report, however, notes that middle aged people constitute a high number of migrants and that this situation puts their mother countries at risk of losing manpower.

“The fact that the overwhelming majority of migrant workers consist of prime-age adults suggests that some countries of origin are losing the most productive part of their workforce, which could have a negative impact on their economic growth,” it states.

The ILO survey conducted between 2013 and 2017 discloses that international migrants globally rose to 277 million from 232 million in 2013.

This rise saw the number of migrant workers also increase to 164 million from 150 million, while the number of migrants of working age from 15 years and above increased to 234 million from 207 million of the total number of international migrants.

However, most migrants seeking employment are attracted to 57 high-income countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, 50 upper-middle income nationals such as China and Algeria.

Countries falling under the two economies attract more migrants due to high job opportunities unlike their counterparts from lower middle income and low income countries.

“Although there are various reasons why people migrate, the most prominent reason is for work. Hence, it is no surprise that migrants tend to enjoy higher labour force participation rates than non-migrants,” the report reads.

It notes that migrants looking for employment choose destinations where they expect jobs that fit their skills, resulting in higher participation rates.

However, the report states that higher labour force participation between migrants of working age and non-migrants in the same bracket varies.

For instance, labour force participation rates for non-migrants are higher than migrants in low-income countries, though migrant participation in lower middle income nations is low.

“In high-income countries, falling numbers of migrant workers were observed simultaneously with a higher share in the labour force as a result of the sharp fall in the labour force participation of non-migrants,” reads the report.

The fall in numbers is attributed to factors such as changes in demographics, technology, stringent immigration policies and strong economic growth especially among upper middle income countries.

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