Intended versus unintended consequences of migration restriction policies: evidence from a natural experiment in Indonesia

This article studies the consequences of restrictions to migration at the origin on labor market outcomes and school enrolment in origin communities. Our difference-in-differences specification exploits the differential impact across districts in Indonesia of a reform that restricted the migration of Indonesian female domestic workers towards Saudi Arabia in 2011. Our results suggest that this reform did not lead to higher unemployment in Indonesia, but it increased the proportion of workers employed in informal jobs and in agriculture. No detectable change in the consumption patterns of Indonesian households appears from our analysis, suggesting that rural areas in Indonesia could absorb the sudden increase in the availability of workforce. Our findings also show an increase in junior secondary school enrolment of both males and females, arguably reflecting the importance of the maternal presence in the household for the investment in human capital of children.