Working Paper
Ban on female migrant workers

Skills-differentiated evidence from Sri Lanka

This study examines the skills-differentiated impact of a restrictive female labour migration policy in Sri Lanka using monthly departure data from 2012 to 2018 in a difference-in-difference model. The policy has resulted in decreasing departures among lower-skilled groups—female domestic, unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled workers—and increasing departures among middle-level and professional workers.

The decrease in departures of lower-skilled groups is consistent with the objectives of the policy and existing impact evaluation studies, while the increase in higher-skilled workers is consistent with the literature on Family Background Report-related corruption and mis-reporting of skills to avoid the policy.

Thus, the Family Background Report policy is associated with higher involvement of lower-skilled workers in recruitment-related corruption, higher exposure to recruitment-related vulnerability, and lower foreign employment opportunities. The study also finds that it was appropriate to exempt the 45–49 year age group from the Family Background Report requirement in 2017.