There is a widespread belief among Thais that immigrants reduce local workers’ job opportunities and depress wages. This is evident from an opinion survey study conducted in late 2010 by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Triangle Project on public attitudes to migration and migrant workers.
An alarming 89 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that ‘Government policies to admit migrants should be more restrictive’, while only 40 per cent believed that migrant workers make a net contribution to the economy.
The results echo previous findings from another ILO/UN Women-commissioned study conducted by Assumption University in late 2006, which found that most respondents believed that migrant workers should not be able to apply for any job, and that Thailand did not need migrant workers to sustain its manufacturing and agricultural industries.
The negative attitudes revealed by that survey were fuelled by concerns over the sharp increase in the number of migrant workers, which nearly doubled from 2004 to 2007.
Author: Dilaka Lathapipat, TDRI
Immigration and the Thai labour market