On the Filipino Migration and Remittances: The grass is still greener on the other side

data commentary dataviz history

The Filipino diaspora has been a relatively well-documented phenomenon, as poor circumstances in the domestic economy nudge others to seek greener pastures abroad. But where exactly do these people go, and how have the trends changed since 1990? Also, are there any people coming in to the country? Let’s take a look at the data.

TJ Palanca https://www.twitter.com/tjpalanca
05-18-2014
LEAVING ON A JET PLANE. Where do these Filipino migrants go, and which nationalities migrate into the Philippines? In this photo, a migrant worker from Bangladesh, a country which faces similar economic circumstances as the Philippines, awaits his flight. (Photo: <a href='https://www.flickr.com/photos/faisal_akram/5713851042/in/photolist-9GUYR9-7pV7aR-ysY3-zRicg-bcx2Hi-bkh2wB-7N5Zve-ytDd-7RVWSW-7VrpGi-7Vf9tc-CJXYV-CJXYR-AkeFU-CHxBb-owqZm-37FjT-675Z2g-675Z1P-675Z2H-55yLcX' rel='nofollow' >Faisal Akram/Flickr</a>, <a href='https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/' rel='nofollow'>CC BY-SA 2.0</a>)

Figure 1: LEAVING ON A JET PLANE. Where do these Filipino migrants go, and which nationalities migrate into the Philippines? In this photo, a migrant worker from Bangladesh, a country which faces similar economic circumstances as the Philippines, awaits his flight. (Photo: Faisal Akram/Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Economic circumstances and an oversupply of labor in the domestic market have caused what some people have called the Filipino diaspora - a large outflow of migrant workers and overseas contract workers seeking better jobs - and pay - abroad.

Where do our migrants go? Who migrates into the Philippines?

To look deeper into the phenomenon, we can study data provided by researchers Abel, Bauer, and Sander who estimated global migration flows by noting changes in migrant stock of each country. They also created an interesting circular plot visualization that allows you to view high-level region flow data. They also have an article published in Science, for those who are more keen on the details.

For this post, let’s focus on country-specific data for the Philippines. The data is estimated for 5 year intervals from mid 1990 to mid 1995, and so on. I also isolated the countries presented to those with which the Philippines had major immigrant/emigrant flows, which are defined as those having 10% of inflows/outflows in any one period, or 5% of total flow in any one period.