Sri Lanka

Key Points

  • Sri Lanka is the only country in South and South-West Asia that has net out-migration, low fertility and a shrinking population in the 15–39 age group. If out-migration, especially of young people, continues to be high, Sri Lanka is likely to suffer labour shortages in the long run.
  • The number of female labour migrants from Sri Lanka slightly exceeds the number of male migrants, a unique characteristic in the subregion. The vast majority of women migrants from the country work as domestic helpers in Western Asia.
  • A significant number of Sri Lankans migrated overseas as refugees during an extended period of internal instability and conflict in the northern and eastern regions of the country.
  • Despite the effects of the global financial crisis on overseas employment opportunities, the foreign employment industry has become the highest net earner of foreign exchange in the Sri Lankan economy.
  • Remittances to Sri Lanka in 2009 stood at 222 billion Sri Lankan rupees Rs ($2 billion). Of that amount, 59.9 per cent were sent by Sri Lankan migrant workers in Western Asia.