B. Central Asia Paper on Migration and Remittances

United Nations Development Programme
Regional Bureau for Europe and CIS
RBEC’s Central Asia Human Development
Paper on Migration and Remittances
Concept note
March 2015
UNDP in 2013 began work on a series of Central Asia1 human development papers that build on its
2005 Central Asia Human Development Report, via use of a more flexible modular, thematic format. The
Central Asia Trade and Human Development Paper,2 which was presented in 2014, was the first in this series.
“Migration and remittances” is the topic of the next Central Asia human development paper,3 for release
later in 2015.
Lack of decent employment opportunities has been a key development challenge in Central Asia—
especially for its low- and lower middle-income countries, where economic growth is often based on the
capital-intensive export of natural resources (energy, metals). Together with demographic trends (large
numbers of young people entering the workforce each year) and governance/institutional capacity issues,
these structural characteristics depress employment growth in the region, relative to labour market
participants’ aspirations. Significant external labour migration has therefore emerged as a response to this
growth pattern—as is apparent inter alia in the large size and rapid growth in remittance inflows, and their
importance as development drivers. According to World Bank estimates, remittance inflows into Tajikistan
and the Kyrgyz Republic (measured by ratios vis-a-vis GDP) are the largest in the world. The available evidence
indicates that these inflows in also play a significant role in reducing poverty—particularly in the Kyrgyz
Republic. On the other hand, the large scale of these flows may be matched by their associated human
costs—in both source and destination countries; and for the migrants themselves, for the communities that
receive them, and for those left behind.
This paper examines both the macroeconomic and socio-economic/human costs and benefits of
these migration and remittance flows—with a particular focus on labour market integration between
Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic on the one hand, and the Russian Federation on the other. Particular
attention is afforded to:
Analysing the most recent data on migration and remittances in the sub-region—with a particular
focus on further refining their accuracy and reliability;
Considering the possible impact of the current economic downturn in the Russian Federation
(and Kazakhstan) on migration and remittance flows vis-à-vis Central Asia’s low- and lower
middle-income countries; and
Identifying those policies and programmes regarding migration and remittances that show the
greatest progress in, and prospects for, improving livelihoods of migrants and their home
Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
This paper was funded by the Government of Finland’s Wider Europe Initiative.
3 Work on this paper, which is financed by the Russian Federation, is coordinated closely with similar research being conducted by
the Eurasian Development Bank’s Centre for Integration Studies.
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