September 15, 2016 – a team of local PEP researchers held a policy conference in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, to present and discuss their findings on the impact of remittances on the supply of youth labor in the country.
Organized in collaboration with the AVEP Public Fund, the event brought together key policy actors from the national government, representatives of national and international organizations, and also attracted significant academic and media interest.
In this study, selected under the PAGE initiative in 2014, the researchers analyzed data from the 2011 “Life in the Kyrgyz Republic” survey for 1633 youth (aged 15 to 28). The data was used to analyze the impact of remittances from international migration on the occupational choice and working hours of left-behind youth.
The team’s analysis indicates that remittances from a family member working abroad increase the likelihood that a young person becomes a “family contributing worker”, meaning that young people who have difficulty finding a job are more inclined to contribute to the household through domestic chores or agricultural work. The team also found that youth with basic, secondary and/or technical education are more likely to become self-employed compared to university-educated youth. While remittances were not found to promote unemployment nor generate dependency amongst the left-behind youth, they do tend to be used for general household expenditures rather than to fund entrepreneurial activities.
Based on these findings, the researchers believe that policies supporting the productive use of remittances (e.g. to start a business) should be implemented to encourage projects throughout the country. Secondly, the research team recommends reforms to the education system to better meet the (domestic and international) labor market requirements in terms of demand and skill, and to provide specific training to encourage entrepreneurship. Find out more about the research methods, findings and policy recommendations in the following PEP publications: Project's webpage, Working Paper 2016-05 (full paper) and Policy Brief 130.
The objective of this conference was to increase understanding and awareness of the researchers’ work, with the hope of influencing policy, by presenting these findings and discussing the recommendations with key stakeholders and policy actors. Among those in attendance were government representatives for the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Labor and Social Development, and for the State Agency of Migration. Representatives of the National Statistical Committee, the National Institute of Strategic Studies of the Kyrgyz Republic (NISS KR), the World Bank Kyrgyzstan, the ICCO Corporation and the academia also attended. High-level officials, including the Minister of Labor and Social Development and the Director of the State Agency of Migration, who were unable to attend indicated their interest in the findings and assigned representatives to attend on their behalf.
Bringing together approximately 30 governmental representatives, NGO representatives, researchers and journalists, the event provided the forum for a lively and useful discussion of the research team’s recommendations, with policy actors and academics sharing their respective experience.
Almost all participants agreed that remittances need to be put to more productive use and that households receiving remittances ought to be supported by programs that develop entrepreneurship.
The state and national government representatives stated their agreement with the recommendation to reform education and training programs to reduce the probability that youth become unpaid family workers. It was also suggested that current programs should be expanded to cover a larger geographical area.
The finding that young women are more likely to be unemployed and more likely to choose “family contributing work” than young men was of particular interest to the NGO representatives present as well as to the government representatives.
During the discussions, the participants agreed that there is an urgent need to improve employment opportunities for youth in Kyrgyzstan in order to reduce the tendency for labor migration.
Two researchers from the NISS KR (a government research institute responsible for analytical research on strategic issues) stated that the PEP team’s findings and policy recommendations will be included in a forthcoming report for the national government on migration and youth policy.
During the conference, the National Statistical Committee representative suggested that further research should be done to look at whether the migration of a household member has an impact on the decision of a left-behind youth to migrate at a later time.
Following the conference, several research institutes and consulting companies approached the PEP team leader, Kamalbek Karymshakov, about possible future collaborations. In particular, AVEP Public Fund staff expressed an interest in collaborating with the PEP team on an AVEP project to assess its education programs for youth employment.
A number of journalists from regional and national newspapers, television channels, radio stations and current affairs websites reported from the event. In particular, the Piramida television channel broadcast a report of the team’s findings and the conference discussions to a national audience. The findings and research implications will also feed future national television reports discussing economic and social issues in Kyrgyzstan.