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Wellbeing among Indonesian labour migrants to Malaysia: implications of the 2011 memorandum of understanding

journal contribution
posted on 2014-07-01, 00:00 authored by Ingrid Nielsen, S Sendjaya
A spate of media attention has focused on the harsh conditions endured by Indonesian labour migrants in Malaysia. In June 2009, human rights abuses led to a ban by Indonesia on recruitment of Indonesians for domestic service in Malaysia. This ban was overturned on May 30th 2011, with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two nations on migrant employment conditions. Against this backdrop, this paper reports on the findings of a survey administering the Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) among a sample of Indonesian labour migrants. The aims of the study were: (a) to determine the degree to which Indonesian labour migrants to Malaysia are satisfied with their lives; (b) to contribute the first psychometric data for the PWI for this migrant group; (c) to compare results to existing studies for other labour migrants in Asia; (d) to examine whether the PWI responses fall within the narrow range predicted by the 'Theory of Subjective Wellbeing Homeostasis'; and (e) to determine the contributions of sets of perceived macroeconomic conditions, perceived institutional factors and perceived social conditions to the prediction of wellbeing over and above the contribution of demographics. Results indicated a high level of personal wellbeing and the PWI demonstrated good psychometric properties. In particular, the sample reported very high satisfaction with religiosity. The PWI full score narrowly exceeded the normative range for non-Western countries and was within the narrow band predicted by the 'Theory of Subjective Wellbeing Homeostasis'. Sets of perceived macroeconomic conditions, institutional factors and social conditions added incrementally to the prediction of wellbeing over and above demographics, suggesting that current attempts inherent in the MoU to stem abuse and improve conditions for Indonesian labour migrants might have benefits to subjective wellbeing in this migration context in the future. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.



Social indicators research






919 - 938




Dordrecht, The Netherlands





Publication classification

C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2014, Springer