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Migration, Employment, and Food Security in Central Asia:
the case of Uzbekistan
Bakhrom Mirkasimov
(Westminster International University in Tashkent)
BACKGROUND: CENTRAL ASIA
All four countries
experienced significant
outmigration until 2004
Kazakhstan imported
more labor from abroad
than it sent to other
countries
Outmigration from
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan
and Uzbekistan
intensified after 2004
BACKGROUND: UZBEKISTAN
Around two million
Uzbeks living outside the
country in 2015
Uzbeks move abroad –
primarily to Russia – to
seek work opportunities
and earn better wages
0
500
1000
1500
2000
1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015
InThousands
Russian Federation Kazakhstan Ukraine
Turkmenistan Republic of Korea Germany
Israel US Others
Source: UNDESA, Trends in International Migrant Stock
Database, 2017
Countries with the largest number of Uzbeks living abroad,
1990- 2015
BACKGROUND: UZBEKISTAN
There are over 1.2 million
work permits granted to
citizens of Uzbekistan in
Russia
This trend started growing
dramatically after 2010
By 2013, Uzbek citizens
obtained the majority of work
permits as a share of total
permits issued to labor
migrants from the CIS
Starting from 2014 labor
migration began to decline
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
-
200
400
600
800
1000
1200
1400
2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Thousands
Work Permits % of CIS total
Source: ROSSTAT. Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, 2017
BACKGROUND: UZBEKISTAN
Personal remittances have
reached an all-time high of
$6.7 billion USD in 2013
This amount accounted for
12% of GDP, an increase from
7.3% in 2010
In 2015, figures were at a
meager $3.1 billion (4.7% of
GDP), more than a half
decrease from 2013
In 2016, remittances declined
to $2.7 billion, about 40% of
2013 level
ACCESS TO BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE
Utility National Rural area
Urban area
(excluding
Tashkent city)
Tashkent
city
Tap water
percentage
with access
66.6 37.9 92.4 100.0
degree of
satisfaction
84.0 84.4 82.3 88.2
Electricity
percentage
with access
100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0
degree of
satisfaction
76.8 70.7 81.7 85.4
Fixed
telephone line
percentage
with access
39.5 17.3 52.3 87.5
degree of
satisfaction
93.4 89.1 94.8 94.2
Central
heating
percentage
with access
30.2 14.8 32.4 84.2
degree of
satisfaction
87.1 85.0 90.2 84.8
Pipeline gas
percentage
with access
63.6 51.9 66.9 100.0
degree of
satisfaction
81.2 74.1 83.0 92.1
The share of
households with
access to tap
water and
pipeline gas
suggest there are
large regional
disparities with
access to basic
utilities
Source: European Bank for
Reconstruction and
Development, Life in
Transition survey III 2016
MEAN NOMINAL MONTHLY EARNINGS, 2015
Economic
activity
Uzbekistan
(in Soums)
Uzbekistan
(in USD)
Manufacturing 2,456,100 305
Construction 2,217,500 275
Transport and
communications 2,034,500 252
Wholesale and
retail trade 1,950,700 242
Education 1,220,500 151
Health 1,100,000 136
WAGES ARE VERY LOW, BUT
LIFE SATISFACTION IS NOW
THE HIGHEST IN THE
TRANSITION REGION (EBRD,
2016)
2017 official exchange rate for
Uzbekistan, October 3: Soums
per USD = 8,060.80
Inflation rate for Uzbekistan in
2015 is 5.6%; food price inflation
is around 20%
No information collected on
agricultural wages
Sources: State Statistics Committee of the
Republic of Uzbekistan, the Central Bank of
Uzbekistan, 2017
SUMMARY: EFFECTS OF MIGRATION
Positive outcomes Negative outcomes
 Remittances sent back home stimulate
consumption, spending on health,
weddings and home improvements
 Remittances may improve household
welfare, human capital of family members
left behind (language) and reduce poverty
 Remittances may improve household food
security and nutrition (especially, for poor
households)
 Migrant workers may learn new skills
 Migrant workers in host countries spur
economic growth by addressing labour
shortages
 Migration may ease the burden on public
transfer programs
 Loss of labour force in home country (e.g.,
negative effect on crop income)
 Socio-psychological problems (e.g., deterioration
of the family, depression, broken families, etc.)
 Abuse (forced labour, low wage compared to
locals) and lack of access to social security
measures and free medical services
 Exposure to sexually transmitted infections and
other diseases
 Remittances may delay economic and institutional
reforms
 Large swings in remittance inflows may bring
macroeconomic volatility
 Migration may not improve the human capital of
children left behind
Malyuchenko, 2015; Somach & Rubin, 2010, Smolak et al., 2015; UNAIDS, 2016; Ahunov et. al, 2016.
ACTION STRATEGY 2017-2021
The year of 2017 was declared as the “Year of Dialogue with People and Human
Interests”. The five priorities include:
1. Priority areas for the improvement of the system of state and public
administration
2. Priority areas to ensure the rule of law and further reform of the judicial
system
3. Priority areas of development and liberalization of the economy
4. Priority directions of the social sphere development
5. Priority areas in the sphere of security, inter-ethnic harmony and religious
tolerance
JOBS PROGRAM FOR 2017
Source: UzReport. 2016. Uzbekistan adopts Employment Program for 2017. 31 October.
The Program identifies the
following strategies towards
achieving its goals:
• Establishment of small industrial
zones;
• Allocation of micro credits to
organize businesses;
• Use of modern information
technologies and programs for
job search (www.mehnat.uz);
and
• Conduct of at least 1,000 job
fairs in different cities and
districts together with potential
employers, businesses and
organizations.
DATA: CALISS 2013
• We use a nationally representative household and individual survey data on
migration, remittances and cognitive skills (CALISS) conducted in Uzbekistan
by the World Bank/German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in 2013.
• This Uzbekistan Jobs, Skills and Migration survey is one of three identical
household surveys conducted in Central Asia – the two other countries are
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.
• The data encompass a variety of socioeconomic indicators, including living
conditions, consumption and health expenditure, education, migration, and
employment details, remittances, use of financial services, subjective poverty
and well-being measures, and cognitive and non-cognitive skills tests.
• The sample size of the core questionnaire includes 1,500 randomly selected
households with a total of 8,622 individuals. The second skills questionnaire
consists of 1,500 individuals.
MIGRANT PROFILE
The average age of a
migrant is 31 years old
Nearly 90% are male and
have completed at least
secondary education
Most of them come from
rural areas
They mainly go to Russia
and Kazakhstan
Table 1
Characteristics of migrants. Source: Authors' illustration based on 2013 CALISS data.
Variables
Age
Male (%)
Married (%)
Uzbek (%)
Basic education or below (%)
Secondary education (%)
University degree (%)
In Russia (%)
In Kazakhstan (%)
Comes from rural area (%)
N
Note: Only migrants aged 15 and above are considered.
85.3
12.6
74.6
645
Mean/Proportion
30.84
89.8
62.9
85
9.8
85
5.2
SUMMARY STATISTICS
The largest sectoral
employment is found in
agriculture and fishing
In the education and
health sectors, women
are three times more
represented than men
The construction sector
is the dominant
employer for men
Table 2.2: Uzbekistan - Sectoral distribution by gender, aged 25-55, 2013 CALISS
Industry groups Men (%) Women (%)
Agriculture and fishing 18.17 19.42
Mining 1.14 0.29
Manufacturing 5.31 1.44
Energy and water 1.54 0.40
Construction 25.71 0.58
Trade and repair 8.97 3.17
Hotels and restaurants 0.46 0.46
Transport and communications 10.00 0.46
Finance 1.83 0.52
Public administration 4.11 1.10
Education 4.11 12.10
Health and social work 1.54 6.63
Utilities, social and personal services 5.83 5.36
Private households with employed persons 0.91 0.17
Extra-territorial organizations (e.g. embassies, UN) 0.11 0.17
Don't know / missing 10.23 47.72
Number of observations 1750 1735
PRELIMINARY RESULTS
Analysis validates being
female is negatively
associated with probability of
being in the labor force
So does being divorced and
having a migrant relative at
home
Remittances therefore play
an important role for food
security and nutritional intake
IMPLICATIONS FOR FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY
• Evidence suggests that malnutrition has long-lasting effects on cognitive
development of children
• There is also a strong link between malnutrition and cognitive skills decline in
adults (GNR 2014, 2015 and 2016)
• The relationship between nutritional status and employment may lead to a
vicious cycle
• Remittances may have a role in breaking this vicious cycle
• The Action Strategy for 2017-2021, if implemented well, plays an important role
to increase the level of income and the quality of life of each person
• The role of the private sector is essential for generating wealth (security) by
creating new opportunities for men and women
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME!
QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
EXPORT STRUCTURE, 1995-2016 (%)
The structure of exports has
also shifted dramatically and
confirms this structural
transformation
The share of agricultural exports
has fallen from about 68% to
about 11% over the last two
decades, while exports of fuels
and chemicals have largely
replaced the share of agriculture
The share of non-commodity
exports (for example, cars,
trucks, fertilizers, plastics, and
foodstuffs) has also increased
by 21% over this period
0
20
40
60
80
100
1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 2013 2015
Percentage
Agricultural products Mining and minerals Fuels
Textile and garments Chemicals Machinery
Food and beverages Metal products Other products
Source: Estimates based on UN Commodity Trade Statistics database
Sector contribution to GDP and Employment, 1991-2015 (%)
Focus on industrialization
and modernization
policies since this sector
has higher output per
worker than other sectors
However, most of the
labor force still remains
concentrated in the
agricultural sector
Agricultural employment is
a livelihood strategy to
majority of population
living in rural areas
0
20
40
60
80
100
Employment GDP Employment GDP Employment GDP
1995 2005 2015
Percentage
Agriculture Industry Services
Source: Contribution to GDP from World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2017; employment shares
from ILO Key Indicators of the Labour Market (KILM), March 2017.
FURTHER ANALYSIS
Three empirical issues associated with measuring the impact of labor migration
on human capital supply are accounting for:
(i) Possible bias due to unobserved heterogeneity (selection bias)
(ii) Migrants’ forgone domestic income
(iii) Simultaneity bias
Possible solution:
(i) Implementation of instrumental variables approach by using variations in
wages across provinces in a host country (Russia)
(ii) Propensity score matching approach which allows to match households based
on their socio-economic characteristics

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Migration, Employment, and Food Security in Central Asia: the case of Uzbekistan

  • 1.
  • 2. Migration, Employment, and Food Security in Central Asia: the case of Uzbekistan Bakhrom Mirkasimov (Westminster International University in Tashkent)
  • 3. BACKGROUND: CENTRAL ASIA All four countries experienced significant outmigration until 2004 Kazakhstan imported more labor from abroad than it sent to other countries Outmigration from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan intensified after 2004
  • 4. BACKGROUND: UZBEKISTAN Around two million Uzbeks living outside the country in 2015 Uzbeks move abroad – primarily to Russia – to seek work opportunities and earn better wages 0 500 1000 1500 2000 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 2015 InThousands Russian Federation Kazakhstan Ukraine Turkmenistan Republic of Korea Germany Israel US Others Source: UNDESA, Trends in International Migrant Stock Database, 2017 Countries with the largest number of Uzbeks living abroad, 1990- 2015
  • 5. BACKGROUND: UZBEKISTAN There are over 1.2 million work permits granted to citizens of Uzbekistan in Russia This trend started growing dramatically after 2010 By 2013, Uzbek citizens obtained the majority of work permits as a share of total permits issued to labor migrants from the CIS Starting from 2014 labor migration began to decline 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% - 200 400 600 800 1000 1200 1400 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Thousands Work Permits % of CIS total Source: ROSSTAT. Federal State Statistics Service of the Russian Federation, 2017
  • 6. BACKGROUND: UZBEKISTAN Personal remittances have reached an all-time high of $6.7 billion USD in 2013 This amount accounted for 12% of GDP, an increase from 7.3% in 2010 In 2015, figures were at a meager $3.1 billion (4.7% of GDP), more than a half decrease from 2013 In 2016, remittances declined to $2.7 billion, about 40% of 2013 level
  • 7. ACCESS TO BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE Utility National Rural area Urban area (excluding Tashkent city) Tashkent city Tap water percentage with access 66.6 37.9 92.4 100.0 degree of satisfaction 84.0 84.4 82.3 88.2 Electricity percentage with access 100.0 100.0 100.0 100.0 degree of satisfaction 76.8 70.7 81.7 85.4 Fixed telephone line percentage with access 39.5 17.3 52.3 87.5 degree of satisfaction 93.4 89.1 94.8 94.2 Central heating percentage with access 30.2 14.8 32.4 84.2 degree of satisfaction 87.1 85.0 90.2 84.8 Pipeline gas percentage with access 63.6 51.9 66.9 100.0 degree of satisfaction 81.2 74.1 83.0 92.1 The share of households with access to tap water and pipeline gas suggest there are large regional disparities with access to basic utilities Source: European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Life in Transition survey III 2016
  • 8. MEAN NOMINAL MONTHLY EARNINGS, 2015 Economic activity Uzbekistan (in Soums) Uzbekistan (in USD) Manufacturing 2,456,100 305 Construction 2,217,500 275 Transport and communications 2,034,500 252 Wholesale and retail trade 1,950,700 242 Education 1,220,500 151 Health 1,100,000 136 WAGES ARE VERY LOW, BUT LIFE SATISFACTION IS NOW THE HIGHEST IN THE TRANSITION REGION (EBRD, 2016) 2017 official exchange rate for Uzbekistan, October 3: Soums per USD = 8,060.80 Inflation rate for Uzbekistan in 2015 is 5.6%; food price inflation is around 20% No information collected on agricultural wages Sources: State Statistics Committee of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Central Bank of Uzbekistan, 2017
  • 9. SUMMARY: EFFECTS OF MIGRATION Positive outcomes Negative outcomes  Remittances sent back home stimulate consumption, spending on health, weddings and home improvements  Remittances may improve household welfare, human capital of family members left behind (language) and reduce poverty  Remittances may improve household food security and nutrition (especially, for poor households)  Migrant workers may learn new skills  Migrant workers in host countries spur economic growth by addressing labour shortages  Migration may ease the burden on public transfer programs  Loss of labour force in home country (e.g., negative effect on crop income)  Socio-psychological problems (e.g., deterioration of the family, depression, broken families, etc.)  Abuse (forced labour, low wage compared to locals) and lack of access to social security measures and free medical services  Exposure to sexually transmitted infections and other diseases  Remittances may delay economic and institutional reforms  Large swings in remittance inflows may bring macroeconomic volatility  Migration may not improve the human capital of children left behind Malyuchenko, 2015; Somach & Rubin, 2010, Smolak et al., 2015; UNAIDS, 2016; Ahunov et. al, 2016.
  • 10. ACTION STRATEGY 2017-2021 The year of 2017 was declared as the “Year of Dialogue with People and Human Interests”. The five priorities include: 1. Priority areas for the improvement of the system of state and public administration 2. Priority areas to ensure the rule of law and further reform of the judicial system 3. Priority areas of development and liberalization of the economy 4. Priority directions of the social sphere development 5. Priority areas in the sphere of security, inter-ethnic harmony and religious tolerance
  • 11. JOBS PROGRAM FOR 2017 Source: UzReport. 2016. Uzbekistan adopts Employment Program for 2017. 31 October. The Program identifies the following strategies towards achieving its goals: • Establishment of small industrial zones; • Allocation of micro credits to organize businesses; • Use of modern information technologies and programs for job search (www.mehnat.uz); and • Conduct of at least 1,000 job fairs in different cities and districts together with potential employers, businesses and organizations.
  • 12. DATA: CALISS 2013 • We use a nationally representative household and individual survey data on migration, remittances and cognitive skills (CALISS) conducted in Uzbekistan by the World Bank/German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) in 2013. • This Uzbekistan Jobs, Skills and Migration survey is one of three identical household surveys conducted in Central Asia – the two other countries are Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. • The data encompass a variety of socioeconomic indicators, including living conditions, consumption and health expenditure, education, migration, and employment details, remittances, use of financial services, subjective poverty and well-being measures, and cognitive and non-cognitive skills tests. • The sample size of the core questionnaire includes 1,500 randomly selected households with a total of 8,622 individuals. The second skills questionnaire consists of 1,500 individuals.
  • 13. MIGRANT PROFILE The average age of a migrant is 31 years old Nearly 90% are male and have completed at least secondary education Most of them come from rural areas They mainly go to Russia and Kazakhstan Table 1 Characteristics of migrants. Source: Authors' illustration based on 2013 CALISS data. Variables Age Male (%) Married (%) Uzbek (%) Basic education or below (%) Secondary education (%) University degree (%) In Russia (%) In Kazakhstan (%) Comes from rural area (%) N Note: Only migrants aged 15 and above are considered. 85.3 12.6 74.6 645 Mean/Proportion 30.84 89.8 62.9 85 9.8 85 5.2
  • 14. SUMMARY STATISTICS The largest sectoral employment is found in agriculture and fishing In the education and health sectors, women are three times more represented than men The construction sector is the dominant employer for men Table 2.2: Uzbekistan - Sectoral distribution by gender, aged 25-55, 2013 CALISS Industry groups Men (%) Women (%) Agriculture and fishing 18.17 19.42 Mining 1.14 0.29 Manufacturing 5.31 1.44 Energy and water 1.54 0.40 Construction 25.71 0.58 Trade and repair 8.97 3.17 Hotels and restaurants 0.46 0.46 Transport and communications 10.00 0.46 Finance 1.83 0.52 Public administration 4.11 1.10 Education 4.11 12.10 Health and social work 1.54 6.63 Utilities, social and personal services 5.83 5.36 Private households with employed persons 0.91 0.17 Extra-territorial organizations (e.g. embassies, UN) 0.11 0.17 Don't know / missing 10.23 47.72 Number of observations 1750 1735
  • 15. PRELIMINARY RESULTS Analysis validates being female is negatively associated with probability of being in the labor force So does being divorced and having a migrant relative at home Remittances therefore play an important role for food security and nutritional intake
  • 16. IMPLICATIONS FOR FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY • Evidence suggests that malnutrition has long-lasting effects on cognitive development of children • There is also a strong link between malnutrition and cognitive skills decline in adults (GNR 2014, 2015 and 2016) • The relationship between nutritional status and employment may lead to a vicious cycle • Remittances may have a role in breaking this vicious cycle • The Action Strategy for 2017-2021, if implemented well, plays an important role to increase the level of income and the quality of life of each person • The role of the private sector is essential for generating wealth (security) by creating new opportunities for men and women
  • 17. THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME! QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS?
  • 18. EXPORT STRUCTURE, 1995-2016 (%) The structure of exports has also shifted dramatically and confirms this structural transformation The share of agricultural exports has fallen from about 68% to about 11% over the last two decades, while exports of fuels and chemicals have largely replaced the share of agriculture The share of non-commodity exports (for example, cars, trucks, fertilizers, plastics, and foodstuffs) has also increased by 21% over this period 0 20 40 60 80 100 1995 1997 1999 2001 2003 2005 2007 2009 2011 2013 2015 Percentage Agricultural products Mining and minerals Fuels Textile and garments Chemicals Machinery Food and beverages Metal products Other products Source: Estimates based on UN Commodity Trade Statistics database
  • 19. Sector contribution to GDP and Employment, 1991-2015 (%) Focus on industrialization and modernization policies since this sector has higher output per worker than other sectors However, most of the labor force still remains concentrated in the agricultural sector Agricultural employment is a livelihood strategy to majority of population living in rural areas 0 20 40 60 80 100 Employment GDP Employment GDP Employment GDP 1995 2005 2015 Percentage Agriculture Industry Services Source: Contribution to GDP from World Bank, World Development Indicators, 2017; employment shares from ILO Key Indicators of the Labour Market (KILM), March 2017.
  • 20. FURTHER ANALYSIS Three empirical issues associated with measuring the impact of labor migration on human capital supply are accounting for: (i) Possible bias due to unobserved heterogeneity (selection bias) (ii) Migrants’ forgone domestic income (iii) Simultaneity bias Possible solution: (i) Implementation of instrumental variables approach by using variations in wages across provinces in a host country (Russia) (ii) Propensity score matching approach which allows to match households based on their socio-economic characteristics