Surprise! Migrant workers from Malaysia remit more home


While Malaysians tend to look down on neighbouring countries because their workers are forced to work abroad and remit money home, few of us realise that, as a percentage of GDP, migrant workers from Malaysia remit more home than those from Indonesia and Thailand.

A friend of mine sent me the following:

Surprise! Remittances of Malaysian migrants back to Malaysia account for 1.6% of GDP, higher than remittances of Indonesian migrants back to Indonesia (1.1% of GDP) and of Thai migrants back to Thailand (1.2% of GDP). The quantum is higher for Indonesia and just marginally higher for Thailand.

Given the attitude of Malaysia and many Malaysians to migrants, it may come as a bit of a shock that migrant remittances to Malaysia account for a higher proportion of our GDP.

The available report does not show the composition of migrants — i.e. where they fall in the class structure. But it is possible that the Malaysian attitude may be a function of the different composition of Malaysian migrants compared to Indonesian, Indian, Bangladeshi, Vietnamese migrants.

See here for details and the whole report. IFAD is the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development.

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Hong Chun Jen

Thousands of Malaysian youths have gone overseas to study and remained to work overseas after they graduate. This brain drain has gone on for a long time already. Many of such students were and are self financed. The cash outflow is in the billions each year. Apart from this outflow, has any study been made on the national income all these graduates and talents would have contributed to generated for the country had they come home but had been lost to the country for not coming home?


Macro economic trends change over a generations or two. The Phillipinos in the 1960’s probably never expected their sons and daughters going out to work overseas in such a large scale. The way Malaysia is going down, and the other economies are going up, we will be surprised in a generation or two. We may have already seen the start of these changes in trends: 1. It is no longer profitable for the Philippinos and Thais to come to work in Malaysia 2. Indonesian maids’ quality has fallen, as Malaysian US$ wages stagnate and Indonesian wages overseas rise. This is… Read more »