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Seasonal Labor Mobility in the Pacific: Past Impacts, Future Prospects

John Gibson () and Rochelle-Lee Bailey
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Rochelle-Lee Bailey: Department of Pacific Affairs, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

Asian Development Review, 2021, vol. 38, issue 1, 1-31

Abstract: The Pacific islands have weak economic growth and limited structural change compared to the rest of developing Asia. Remoteness and low economic density are two causes. To mitigate these constraints, bilateral arrangements with Australia and New Zealand let Pacific workers seasonally migrate to access higher-paying, more dynamic labor markets. Managed circular schemes are designed to benefit employers in labor-intensive sectors like horticulture, Pacific workers with limited employment opportunities in their own countries, and the communities providing workers. Several studies show large, positive impacts, but more general development impacts have been harder to find. Likewise, clear quantitative evidence of positive impacts in host countries has been hard to obtain. In this paper, we review the main seasonal labor mobility schemes in the Pacific and provide new evidence on community-level and aggregate impacts.

Date: 2021
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