Country Overview: Philippines

The country overview blog post series provides a brief background on each of the Reintegrate data collection countries.

The Philippines is well known as the most advanced country in labour migration governance in the world, with 2024 marking a historical 50 years of labour export and 40 years of reintegration policy. As the first migrant sending country to design and implement its own reintegration policies, the Philippines case study forms an integral part of the Reintegrate research.

A small archipelagic country in Southeast Asia, the Philippines has a population of approximately 114 million people and is labelled by the World Bank as a lower middle-income country. Despite tremendous wealth in the country, there is also high poverty and inequality, leading to continued significant labour migration. Approximately one million Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) leave the Philippines each year and in September 2022, the estimated population of OFWs was 1.96 million.

Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) – A Filipino who is engaged in or has been engaged (in the past 12 months) in a remunerated activity in a state of which he/she is not a legal resident, or on board a vessel navigating the foreign seas other than a government ship used for military or noncommercial purposes or on an installation located offshore or the high seas.
National Statistics Agency

In 2018, the first national survey of migration was conducted in the Philippines. The results showed that the majority of OFWs are women at 58%. Most women work in elementary occupations (70%), meaning simple and routine tasks that require labour, whereas only 10% of male OFWs work in elementary occupations. This likely reflects the large number of Filipino women in domestic work.

For land based OFWs, the largest flows are to temporary migration countries, including the Gulf Cooperation Countries. For first time migrants, the top destination countries were: Saudi Arabia (23%), United Arab Emirates (12%), Malaysia (8%), Japan (7%), Singapore, Taiwan and Kuwait (6% each), Hong Kong and the USA (5 % each).

The national survey on migration found that only 4% of returnees reported receiving any form of assistance from the government upon their return.
National Survey on Migration

Labour migration in the Philippines is a significant aspect of the country’s social and economic landscape. It serves as a livelihood strategy for millions of Filipinos seeking better employment opportunities. According to Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), personal remittances from overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) amounted to USD37.2 billion in 2023, a 3% increase from 2022. The majority of remittances go to migrants’ families and their sacrifices have led to the term ‘modern-day heroes’.

The government of the Philippines has devoted significant resources and policies to labour migration governance and protecting nationals while abroad. At the same time, the government has increasingly made efforts for local development to ensure that migration is a choice and not a necessity.

In 2021 the Philippines created Republic Act 11641 Creating the Department of Migrant Workers, which was fully constituted on 1 January 2023. Through this Act the Philippines is the first country in world to codify the 23 Objectives of the Global Compact on Migration into National Law. In line with these developments, return and reintegration has been prioritized through the National Action Plan on Sustainable, Gender-Responsive Return and Reintegration.

The Reintegrate Project in the Philippines will investigate further the multi-level policy developments and implementation of reintegration governance and the extent to which reintegration programmes and policies have impacted returnees and their families wellbeing.


Philippines Statistics Authority (PSA) and University of the Philippines Population Institute (UPPI). 2019. 2018 National Migration Survey. Quezon City, Philippines: PSA and UPPI.

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