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Demographic Changes and International Labor Mobility in Indonesia

Demographic Changes and International Labor Mobility in Indonesia

By Aris Ananta and Evi Nurvidya Arifin

This paper aims to contribute a better understanding on the demographic and mobility transitions in Indonesia. It describes the relatively fast demographic transition and the accompanying change in migration pattern in Indonesia, a multiethnic and multi-religious country. The discussion on mobility transition includes both internal and international migration. The discussion on the stages of the demographic transition is not limited to the “first demographic transition”, but also included the “second demographic transition”. The first transition is completed when the population reaches replacement level of fertility, usually with TFR (total fertility rate) about 2.2. Van de Kaa (1987) coined the terms “second demographic transition” when the population is already below replacement level of fertility, with TFR lower than 2.2 per woman and IMR (infant mortality rate) less than 30 per 1000 live births. The shift to the second demographic transition indicates a shift from the dominant role of community to that of individual behaviour and decision.

Because fertility and mortality changes affect the age-structure of the population and migration is age-specific behaviour, there can be some relationships between changes in fertility and mortality on one hand and changes in migration on the other hand. Because change in fertility affects the age-structure of the population more than change in mortality does, changes in migration is more likely to be affected by changes in fertility than by mortality.

In a large economy such as Indonesia, the extent of an economic integration within a national economy may become a rising importance to reap the benefit from cross-border economic integration for all economies involved. For such an economy, migration or population mobility means both internal (within the economy) and international (from and to) the economy and therefore the relationship between internal population mobility and international mobility should be given adequate attention in any policy decision regarding cross-border economic integration.

The paper starts by discussing first and second demographic transitions. It discusses changes from a condition with too many children (young population), resulting in a low saving potential, to a condition with too many older persons, also resulting in a low saving potential. Indonesia is currently in between the two conditions, which have started in 2005 and is supposed to end in between 2035 and 2040. In this period, the saving potential is great—this is the so called “demographic window of opportunity” (Ananta, Arifin, Bahktiar 2005). It also discusses the value changes accompanying the second demographic transition starting in 2000-2005.

It then discusses mobility transitions, both internal and international migrations. As with the demographic transition, Indonesia has been in the relatively late stages of mobility transition as well. In the section on internal migration, the paper also discusses the changes and continuity of migration patterns among provinces in Indonesia, whether they are workers-sending or receiving provinces. The section on international migration includes an examination on the nature of the newly created agency dealing with placement and protection of Indonesian overseas workers. It also provides a special attention to the emerging issues of in-migrants to Indonesia. It ends with concluding remarks and recommendations for a cooperation between governments and business sectors in managing international migration.

The full paper can be downloaded from and click “Indonesia”. It is a revision of a paper presented at the PECC-ABAC conference “Demographic Change and International Labor Mobility in the Asia Pacific Regions: Implications for Business & Corporations”. Seoul, Korea: 25-26 March 2008.


Filed under: English, internal migration, international migration, migration, publications, , , ,

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