“What drives workers to go abroad is not absolute poverty or unemployment. The majority of the workers who go abroad have skills that are remunerated at levels three to ten times (even more in the case of seafarers) what they can earn here. In fact, the ones who become OFWs are not those who live below the poverty line. They usually belong to the middle class, having the educational background and financial ability to pay the usual pre-departure expenses which are beyond the reach of the poorest of the poor.”
Research at CRC has pinpointed the main economic reason for the decision to be an OFW: the large wage or income differential between local pay and what can be earned abroad. That is why I have always been saying that even if we are able to eradicate poverty in the next 10 to 20 years by attaining 7 to 10 percent GDP growth annually and implementing policies that lead to “inclusive growth,” there will be millions of Filipinos going abroad as OFWs. What would decline is the percentage of remittances of OFWs to GDP.”
The idea that Filipino workers go abroad because they are poor or unemployed is a myth, notes CRC Research Director Dr. Bernardo M. Villegas. In fact, he says, “they usually belong to the middle class, having the educational background and financial ability to pay the usual pre-departure expenses which are beyond the reach of the poorest of the poor.”
Dr. Villegas’ article dispelling “OFW Myths” is among the papers published together as book 1 of the CRC-published book set “Working Overseas: Diaspora that Sustains the Nation” (edited by Veronica Esposo Ramirez.)
The book set, which is still available at the CRC Bookshop, documents some of the research undertaken by the CRC, gathered from various conferences, seminar-workshops, Round Table Discussions, Focus Group Discussions, position papers, policy recommendations and legislative proposals CRC has worked on over the years.
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