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Research Report

International migration and over-indebtedness:: the case of Filipino workers in Italy

Copyright Date: Oct. 1, 2012
Pages: 66
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 4-11)

    The ground is shaking. With the world in the grip of a huge financial crisis, neoliberal concepts and rules on the economy, trade and accumulation are losing their credibility and dominance. The Italian economy has been hard hit by the crisis. This is manifested by the impossibility to sustain the balance of payments: individuals, families, States and banks are everyday confronted with a possible collapse due to increasing debts they have contracted in the past and which they are unable to pay back on time. From an anomaly, overindebtedness has thus become an intrinsic part of our reality, causing enormous...

  2. (pp. 11-17)

    ‘Tony Ranque worked for years in Saudi Arabia where he faced a dilemma that other overseas Filipinos have probably encountered: the longer he worked abroad, the bigger his debt grew’. This is the lead sentence of one of many news articles on the seemingly widespread problem of Filipino migrants working abroad. The media in Hong Kong and the Emirates to name only few has exposed cases of heavily indebted Filipino migrant workers. Some migrants have even been arrested and jailed for failing to meet their obligations.10 In fact, news articles depict working Filipino mothers in the Emirates jailed because they...

  3. (pp. 17-27)

    Migrants have been acknowledged for making a fundamental contribution to the economies of their home countries, by improving the conditions of members of their households and sustaining development projects in the fields of education, construction and agriculture development.28

    The Philippines is now the world’s third largest recipient of remittances in absolute terms, behind India and Mexico. At over 9 per cent of GDP the level of remittances is high for such a relatively large economy and sets the Philippines apart from its Asian neighbours and indeed other lower middle-income countries.29 This was in 2005. Let us now look at the...

  4. (pp. 27-37)

    Although the long-term effects of remittances on the socio-economic development of countries like the Philippines is still debated among academics and policy makers44, labour migration appears to be a crucial strategy for accumulating resources at the individual and household level and a general reason for improvements in transnational households' living conditions. In this view migration is an important livelihood strategy which increasing numbers of women and men from the global south are willing to undertake45. In the most successful cases, the migrant family’s human capital (through education) and social status, through years of work overseas, are rewarded by significant upward...

  5. (pp. 37-48)

    During the interviews, 32 Filipino men and women were asked to illustrate in detail all the loans they have contracted during their stay in Italy and, when relevant, loans they had contracted in the Philippines before their arrival in Italy. The interviewees were able to describe a total of 114 loans, which represent a very interesting sample and great source of information. The analysis in these pages is derived from merging observations based on the stories of the 32 interviewees and the characteristics of their 114 loans.

    First of all, people were asked to clarify when their ‘borrowing history’ started,...

  6. (pp. 49-51)

    The number of respondents involved in this research project (15 key informants and 32 interviewees with 114 loans) represents only a thin slice of the almost 135,000 Filipina and Filipino migrants presently living and working in Italy. It would be hard to make sweeping generalizations based on the data and opinions gathered. However, the findings can still be considered a breakthrough on the following points:

    It is a focused and concentrated effort to examine a relatively new phenomenon that, based on many accounts, is related to the global economic crisis and its impact on migration in both sending and receiving...