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 Socio-Demographic Indicators Year Value
 Human Development Index  2005  0.728a
 Human Development Index, Rank  2005  107a
 Gender-related Development Index  2005  0.721a
 Gender-related Development Index, Rank  2005  93a
 Population Mid-year (In millions)  2008  239.9b
 Rate of Natural Increase  2008  1.5b
 Life Expectancy (Male/Female)  2008  69/72b

Sources: aUNDP (2007); bPopulation Reference Bureau (2008)


 Economic Indicators  Year  Value
 GDP Growth Rate (%)  2006  5.5c
 GDP Per Capita (PPP US$)  2005  3,843a
 GNI PPP Per Capita (US$)  2007  3,580b
 Unemployment Rate  2006  10.3c

Sources: aUNDP (2007); bPopulation Reference Bureau (2008); cADB (2007)


Indonesia was hard hit by the Asian financial crisis; real GDP fell by 13 percent in 1998. The economic crisis led to massive student protests that forced Suharto who was in power for 32 years to step down in that year. The first democratic elections in 44 years took place in June 1999. The economy improved in 2000 with a strong 4.8 percent expansion, but slowed down again in 2001 and 2002. The 12 October 2002 Bali bombing hit the tourism industry and resulted in a delayed recovery in the economy. Indonesia also had to struggle with the December 2004 tsunami and an earthquake in central Java in May 2006. Nevertheless, the annual GDP growth rate exceeded 5 percent in 2004 and 2005. However, this high growth rate has not contributed to reducing unemployment; the unemployment rate continued to increase between 2001 and 2005, reaching 10.3 percent. Poverty remains widespread and continues to motivate people to work abroad. In Aceh, a peace agreement was reached between separatists and the government on 15 August 2005.

The following are among the landmark events that have had a bearing on Indonesia’s migration experience:
  • Suspension of unskilled female worker emigration (March 2003)
  • Passage of the Anti-human Trafficking Bill (20 March 2007)
Outflows of Indonesian workers (to Malaysia) started in the 1980s and were further intensified since the second half of the 1980s; the numbers of workers nearly doubled from 1989-1994 to 1994-1997.[1] The out-migration was predominantly to the Middle East until the 1990s, but increasing numbers have migrated to other Asian countries, such as Singapore and Taiwan (IOM, 2003). Table 1 shows the major destination countries/areas for Indonesian migrant workers from 2000 to 2004. As of mid-2006, some 2.7 million Indonesians were working abroad with permission (Hugo, 2007). Women migrants mostly employed as domestic workers lead the migration streams, particularly to Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore and Hong Kong (Hugo, 2007). On the other hand, men mostly migrate to South Korea, Taiwan and Japan.
Its neighboring Malaysia hosts the largest number of Indonesians. As of September 2006, there were an estimated 1.7 million Indonesian workers in Malaysia, of which 1.2 million were believed to be undocumented (AMN, 30 September 2006). Cases of abuse involving Indonesian workers in Malaysia are frequently cited, particularly among domestic workers. To enhance the protection of Indonesian workers (particularly domestic workers) in Malaysia, the two countries signed an MoU on 13 May 2006, under which employers are required to sign labor contracts that specify the rights and obligations of both parties (Malaysian employers and Indonesian employees) (AMN, 15 May 2006). The agreement also prohibits employers and manpower agencies from withholding the wages of Indonesian workers. Both governments signed another pact on 20 November 2006 to fix the fees for hiring Indonesian domestic workers at RM 2,400 per person (AMN, 30 November 2006). In 2007, the two countries had agreed to revise the MoU after an incident involving an Indonesian domestic worker (AMN, 30 June 2007).
Asian Development Bank (ADB)
2007   “Southeast Asia: Indonesia.” In Asian Development Outlook 2007. Available at, accessed on 8 December 2008.
Asian Migration News (AMN) Various Years
Hugo, Graeme
2007 “Indonesia’s Labor Looks Abroad.” Available at, accessed on 13 September 2007.
2003 “Migration Policies Designed to Facilitate the Recruitment of Skilled Workers in Australia.” In International Migration of the Highly Skilled, OECD (2002), quoted in Labor Migration in Asia: Trends, Challenges and Policy Responses in Countries of Origin, International Organization for Migration (2003). Geneva, Switzerland: IOM.
International Organization for Migration
2003   Labor Migration in Asia: Trends, Challenges and Policy Responses in Countries of Origin. Geneva, Switzerland: IOM.
Population Reference Bureau
2008   “2008 World Population Data Sheet.” Available at, accessed on 21 November 2008.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

2007  “Human Development Report 2007/2008.” Available at, accessed on 9 December 2008. 

[1]Hugo, G., “Migration Policies Designed to Facilitate the Recruitment of Skilled Workers in Australia,” in OECD, International Migration of the Highly Skilled, OECD, 2002: 291-320, quoted in International Organization for Migration (IOM), Labor Migration in Asia: Trends, Challenges and Policy Responses in Countries of Origin, 2003:22.


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