The limited employment opportunities and low labor costs in the middle of 1990s –beginning 2000s that caused increased unemployment among population were main driving factors encouraging a high scale labor migration of Tajik citizens abroad. The labor migration from Tajikistan which, according to different sources, composes one third of the employable population of the country is probably the most dominant social feature of contemporary Tajikistan having its both positive and negative effects on communities, especially migrants’ households. During hard economic times and post-war recovery period the labor migration had tremendously contributed in reducing the poverty among population and decreasing unemployment rate in the entire country. As a result, the Government of Tajikistan considers labor migration primarily as an employment sector and as a favorable mean in smoothing social tensions and solving economic problems in the country. However, local and international experts note that labor migration has much higher negative consequences and its long-term costs highly outweight its short term benefits.
In my research I attempt to assess one of those impacts of labor migration from Tajikistan, mainly its social and economic effects on migrants’ households and their life settings. To address this need, this paper aims to answering the following research questions: 1) What are the social and economic impacts of labor migration from Tajikistan on migrants’ families and their life settings? And, 2) what are policy recommendations to the Government of Tajikistan to address the negative consequences of labor migration on migrants’ households? The paper focuses its analysis on socio-economic impacts of labor migration from Tajikistan on migrants’ households in the following aspects: economic situation of migrant’s families from remittances sent by migrants; impact of migration on nutrition and health status of migrants’ households, impact on child rearing, child education and changing status of child in the family (child labor), and assessment of psychological impact of migration on women. The final objective of this paper is development of policy recommendations aimed at addressing or reducing the negative effects of labor migration on migrants’ households.
The following methods were applied in conducting the study: qualitative and quantitative analysis of empirical data issued by local and international agencies working in Tajikistan; analytical review of assessment/monitoring reports prepared by local and international experts; review of analytical publications, newspaper and journal articles on respective labor migration issues in Tajikistan; and analysis and incorporation of official and unofficial census data into this research.
The key findings of this research are those that beside positive effects of labor migration on migrants’ households, such as improved health and nutrition status, increased purchasing power and diversified consumption capacity of family members, there are also long-term negative effects. Mainly, the research concludes the following negative consequences or impacts of labor migration on migrants’ households, such as high dependency of migrants’ households on remittances and their vulnerability to adverse risks associated with job loss, accident, illnesses, death, etc. of their migrant family member working abroad; difficulties for women in managing the household work in absence of male households (husbands, fathers, older sons); difficulties in child-rearing in absence of their fathers; negative effects of labor migration on child education, negative effects of labor migration on expanding child labor in the Tajik society, particularly in early ages (consequently, exclusion from education); and, negative psychological effects of labor migration on migrants’ wives.
The last chapter of the paper is devoted to giving a list of policy recommendations to the Government of Tajikistan on implementing a range of social and economic reforms with the view of eliminating or reducing negative effects of labor migration on migrants’ households in Tajikistan.