The Mixed Effect of Out-Migration in Nepal.

Written by Hirano Patricia Yukari of Namlo International

Movements of migration among nations have increased in a more globalized society and its effects have impacted Nepal in several aspects. According to the Nepal Ministry of Labor and Transport Management, there are around 2.7 million Nepali migrants working abroad. The out migration is spread out over 27 countries around the globe. (ILO, 2016). Of course, out-migration has affected the sustainable development of Nepal in both positive and negative aspects. This blog post will present data analyzing the effects of out-migration in economic, political and social perspectives.

Out-migration is when individuals migrate to other countries to take up jobs to generate income, sending the money back to the home country. Individuals migrate for several reasons, from political incentives to economic benefits. In Nepal, the domestic labor market for unskilled and semi-skilled labor force is dysfunctional. As a result, workers out-migrate to seek better job opportunities to generate higher income for their families. Environmental changes are also one of the main reasons for out-migration, since the country has experienced several natural disasters in recent years that had devastating impacts on infrastructure and overall development. Therefore, out-migration became a life-dream for many Nepali workers to seek better life conditions. Until 2014, more than 2.5 million issued labor permissions in which 95.7% were given to male workers (ILO, 2016). The main destinations for male labor workers are Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. For female labor workers, there are some legal restrictions and conditions to protect woman due past incidents in other countries. The main destinations for female workers are Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. Nepal was the third largest recipient of foreign remittances in 2012, receiving more than NPR 1.5 billion every day.

Out-migration has contributed to Nepal’s growth by generating income and reducing extreme poverty through political incentives. Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 25.2% of the population living below the national poverty line of $1.90 USD (Asian Development Bank, 2017). In order to decrease the high rate of poverty and to increase incomes for labor workers, several treaties and agreements among different nations were created to not only ease the movement of Nepali migrants to other countries but also to guarantee the worker’s rights even outside Nepal. For example, the Ninth Plan (1997-2002) was created to alleviate poverty by creating jobs within the country as well as generating incentives for workers to out-migrate to gain better skills and techniques. In fact, out-migration also give Nepali workers the chance to learn and exchange ideas and understandings with individuals from different countries, also known as “brain circulation”. As a result of out-migration, the rate of population living under the national poverty line dropped 13% until 2014. The receipts of foreign remittances use the income to consume daily products and repaying loans, increasing consumption and leading to future investment. For example, families who receive remittances from abroad spend more on health and education than non-recipient families. Thus, out-migration is a dream for Nepali workers since it creates job opportunities in foreign countries, better economic and social conditions. However, with the large amount of economic opportunities and political incentives to out-migrate, the sustainability of domestic economic development is compromised.

The effects of out-migration interfere the sustainable growth of Nepal by creating foreign dependence and social inequality in the country. Despite the high rate of remittances entering Nepal’s economy, the overall economic growth of Nepal is 4.1%. With lower rates of economic growth, the country faces a challenge to create job opportunities and investments domestically. With more individuals out-migrating, Nepal’s work labor market faces brain drains of both skilled and unskilled labor. Nepali workers depend on the foreign employment to generate and send income to their families, increasing inflation in the country. Moreover, the overall economy is facing an external economic crisis. With higher foreign and domestic dependency, Nepali workers are vulnerable to political and economic changes. For example, due to the environment changes in Nepal, nearly 2 million individuals flew out from Nepal in 2013. Therefore, the rate of issued work permits dropped from 15.8% to 5.8% as a governmental attempt to control the quick migration out the country (ILO, 2016). Due the high levels of workers out-migrating, more female workers had to enter the work labor market to generate income to financially support their families, especially in agricultural sectors. In 2012, restrictions on women under age 30 to out-migrate to other countries were implemented by the government. The law aimed to protect women from incidents such as sexual violence, long work hours, and physical abuse outside of the country. However, women still out migrated to the Middle East through illegal channels.With scarce opportunities to work domestically, the income gap between recipient and non-recipient families eventually increased. Therefore, the next question should be: how can NGOs create more opportunities for income generation in Nepal?

The role of NGOs is essential to provide empowerment and income-generating programs for both women and men in Nepal to support the short and long-term development of Nepal. Out-migration is one of the most popular options for workers to generate income. On the other side, out-migration still creates several challenges for the sustainable development of Nepal. Since the female workers are abundant in the work labor market, NGOs can provide empowerment programs for women to learn techniques and new skills. As a result, they can improve productivity and generate more income for their families. Also, NGOs can support the reconstruction of buildings and schools affected by the massive earthquake in 2015. With better social assistance by building schools and basic sanitary infrastructures, workers will not feel the necessity to travel far from their home country to generate income anymore. In addition, the NGOs can partner with other countries to bring new technology and machines for the better development of agricultural techniques in the country, creating an incentive for labor workers to find employments domestically. Namlo International has 12 different empowerment programs from educational initiatives to income-generation programs that contribute for well-being of the local communities in Nepal. Namlo International supports programs in local communities that empower individuals to have more independent and sustainable lives. Therefore, NGOs are crucial in creating opportunities for the sustainable development of Nepal by providing programs which assist local communities in creating opportunity and increasing individual well-being.


Asian Development Bank, (2017). Basic 2017 statistic. Retrieved from

Ministry of Labour and Employment, (2016). Labor migration for employment: A status report for Nepal: 2014/2015. Retrieved from—asia/—ro-bangkok/—ilo-kathmandu/documents/publication/wcms_500311.pdf

United Nations, (n.d.). Out-migration. Situation Report: International migration in south and south-west Asia. Retrieved from

Ghadi Tayeh