Home Publications Gambling on a better future: is international labour migration worth it?
Gambling on a better future: is international labour migration worth it?
Jessica Hagen-Zanker and Richard Mallett
Briefing Paper

Drawing on research carried out in Rolpa district in western Nepal and the districts of Swat and Lower Dir in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in north-western Pakistan, this briefing paper asks: is international labour migration actually working for those people gambling vast amounts of money – and, in some cases, their lives – to participate in it?

The findings of our study ultimately speak to the importance of international labour migration as a way of making a living – particularly for those in or from difficult environments, such as regions affected by or recovering from conflict. But there are a number of problems and concerns with the process of migration for people living in these places. The economic returns of foreign employment come at a massive financial cost for migrants and their families – on average, households in Rolpa borrow the equivalent of one year’s entire household expenditure on food, housing, clothing, education and healthcare in order to send a member overseas.

In addition, risks to the migrant are not confined to transit or destination countries. Securing work overseas means having to navigate a complex bureaucratic process and many migrants have no option but to pay a recruitment agent to guide them through the system. But their lack of familiarity with the rules, combined with the desperation to find well-paid work, makes them highly exploitable to these migration middle-men.

Download the paper


Add comment