In-depth Study on the Quality of Life of Migrant Workers

Following the successful completion of the project, Mapping Migration Issues, Needs and Responses in the Greater Mekong Subregion (2001-2002), MMN decided in 2004 to launch a new phase of the research to look in-depth at the quality of life of migrants while continuing to study the overall situation of migrants and updates on migration-related policies. Initially, when MMN discussed the research plan, the term “working and living conditions of migrants” was used. However, through continued discussion, MMN wanted to emphasise that migrants are not only workers, but human beings who are entitled to a wide range of rights: for example, if migrant workers earn a decent wage and live in decent accommodation, but have no time or chance to enjoy their personal life such as playing sports or falling in love, we cannot say they enjoy a high quality of life. Similar to the previous phase of the research, this phase continues to map out the political, economic, and migration issues of each country in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS), with an added focus on the factors that affect migrants’ quality of life throughout the migration cycle. Research findings from this phase of the study were presented in Resource Book Vol. 2: Migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion (2005).

Project Partners

Cambodia CRT (Country Research Team)

  • Chou Bun Eng, Cambodian Women for Peace and Development (CWPD); acted as the coordinator for the Cambodia CRT
  • Chou Bun Lean, PROMDAN
  • Uch Pouh, CWPD
  • Yin Hakley & Ray Serey Leakhena, Women and Youth Action
  • Thanh Hua, Vietnamese Association
  • Meas Saneth, CARAM Cambodia
  • Sin Kim, KHEMARA

China/Yunnan CRT

  • Han Jialing, Migrant Workers Education and Action Research Centre; acted as the coordinator for the China CRT
  • Zhang Da Yu, Yunnan Floating Population
  • Li Chunrui, Yunnan Reproductive Health Research Association
  • Pu Hongyan
  • Zhao Peilan, Society of Strengthening Capability of Women and Communities


  • Kabmanivanh Phouxay, National University of Laos (NUOL); acted as the coordinator for the Laos CRT
  • Phouth Simmalavong, Bountavy Sosamphanxay, Phombouth Sadachit & Kenchanh Sinsamphanh, NUOL
  • Ninpaseuth Sayaphonsy, Lao Women Union
  • Vilaythone Sounthonxaymongkhoune, Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
  • Bounkham Sihalath, Ministry of Labor and Welfare

Thailand CRT

  • Jackie Pollock and her colleagues, MAP Foundation; Jackie acted as the coordinator for the Thailand CRT
  • Adisorn Kerdmongkol, Action Network for Migrants
  • Myint Wai, Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma
  • EMPOWER Mae Sai & Chiang Mai
  • Federation of Trade Union-Burma
  • Shan Women Action Network
  • Yaung Chi Oo Workers Association

Vietnam CRT

  • Huynh thi Ngoc Tuyet, Institute of Southern Social Sciences; acted as the coordinator for the Vietnam CRT
  • Le thi My Huong, Sunflower Vocational Training Unit
  • Le thi Thuy, Social Work & Community Development Unit
  • Bui Xuan Thanh, Saigon Children’s Charity

Key Activities

In 2004, MMN project partners jointly decided to conduct research on the quality of life of migrant workers. The regional research design included seven research questions: 1) describe the general cross-border labour migration processes/flow in the GMS; 2) describe the quality of life of migrants; 3) identify and analyse the important factors that affect the quality of life of migrants; 4) point out whether there are significant differences or particularities, as well as similarities or commonalities in the quality of life of migrants in the country depending on the nationality/race/ethnicity, job category, gender, or other demographic characteristics; 5) analyse whether, and if so, how, processes established by bilateral agreements on labour migration help improve the quality of life of migrants; 6) examine the perceptions towards migration and migrants at home and in destination countries; and 7) assess what practical and strategic responses exist in relation to migration issues in the GMS.

After agreeing to joint research parameters, country research teams (CRTs) were formed in each six of the countries in the GMS to conduct primary research on the quality of life of migrant workers. Among those interviewed were migrant returnees, current migrants, potential migrants, migrant families, community authorities, youth leaders, and religious leaders. To enhance each CRT’s understanding of migration issues in other countries in the GMS, the Vietnam CRT visited Cambodia, while representatives from Thailand visited Lao PDR and Burma/Myanmar. CRTs also convened twice in September and November 2004 to share research findings and jointly analyse identified issues. The research findings were published in Resource Book Vol. 2: Migration in the Greater Mekong Subregion (2005).