01.01.06. Migration | Indonesia

01.01.06. Migration | Indonesia

12 Apr 2022

Migration from Indonesia to other countries has a long history, with records stemming from Dutch and Japanese colonial times (Raharto, 2007). In the colonial era, beginning 1890, the Dutch government started to source workers from the Dutch East Indies for labour in the plantations of Suriname in South America. After Independence, a Ministry of Labour (later changed to Ministry of Manpower) was established to manage the placements of Indonesian migrant workers abroad (BNP2TKI, 2011). Between 2016 to 2018, there were more than 760,000 Indonesian migrant workers assigned to different countries for various types of jobs, including nurses and care workers (Pusat Penelitian Pengembangan dan Informasi BNP2TKI, 2019).

According to the CIA World Factbook the net migration rate in 2017 was -1.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population. This suggests that more Indonesians are emigrating than foreigners are immigrating, but within country migration also plays an important role (CIA World Factbook, 2019). In 2013, the five main emigration destinations for Indonesians were Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, and Singapore. The UNICEF migration profile for Indonesia suggests that crude net migration has risen slightly from -0.20 in the period 1995 to 2000 to -0.56 in 2010-2015. Future projections suggest that crude migration will stay relatively constant between 2015-2020 (-0.53) and 2045-2050 (-0.44) (United Nations DESA-Population Division and UNICEF, 2014). Among immigrants, the majority were reported to come from China, the Republic of Korea, the UK, Timor-Leste, and Singapore.

In-country migration also plays a considerable role in Indonesia. These often-long-established patterns of migration play a role in the varied ageing patterns observed across Indonesia (Adioetomo & Mujahid, 2014 p.30; Ananta et al., 1997). As in the case of international migration patterns, within-country migration patterns were also influenced by colonial rule, which established transmigration programmes from Java to the outer islands. This policy was maintained after Indonesian independence to move landless people from highly populated areas to less populated areas. This pattern came to a halt following the fall of the New Order (Sukamdi & Mujahid, 2015, p.5).

While some ethnic groups are known for their migration patterns, overall internal migration has been found to slow down between 1995/2000 and 2005/2010 according to Census data. At the same time, those who migrated internally were found to move further away (Sukamdi & Mujahid, 2015, pp. 12-13).

The largest proportion of migrants were aged 15 to 34 years. Among older persons, the number of people migrating were generally low but more women (52.1%) than men were found to migrate at older age. Sukamdi and Muhajid (2015) suggest that women are more likely to follow their adult children when widowed or divorced while men are more likely to re-marry. The greater number of widowed women migrating may also be related to female longevity (Sukamdi & Mujahid, 2015).


Adioetomo, S. M., & Mujahid, G. (2014). Indonesia on The Threshold of Population Ageing – UNFPA Indonesia Monograph Series: No.1. (H. Posselt, Ed.; Issue 1). UNFPA Indonesia.

Ananta, A., Anwar, E. N., & Suzenti, D. (1997). Some Economic Demographic Aspects of “Ageing” in Indonesia. In Indonesia Assessment: Population and Human Resources (pp. 181–203). Australian National University and Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

BNP2TKI. (2011). Sejarah Penempatan TKI Hingga BNP2TKI. http://www.bnp2tki.go.id/frame/9003/Sejarah-Penempatan-TKI-Hingga-BNP2TKI

CIA World Factbook. (2019). Indonesia. https://www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/countries/indonesia/

Pusat Penelitian Pengembangan dan Informasi BNP2TKI. (2019). Data Penempatan dan Perlindungan TKI Periode Bulan Desember Tahun 2018. http://www.bnp2tki.go.id/uploads/data/data_14-01-2019_043946_Laporan_Pengolahan_Data_BNP2TKI_2018_-_DESEMBER.pdf

Raharto, A. (2017). Pengambilan Keputusan Tenaga Kerja Indonesia Perempuan untuk Bekerja di Luar Negeri: Kasus Kabupaten Cilacap (Decision making to work overseas among Indonesian women labor migrants: the case of Cilacap district). Jurnal Kependudukan Indonesia, 12(1), 39–54. http://ejurnal.kependudukan.lipi.go.id/index.php/jki/article/view/275/pdf

Sukamdi, & Mujahid, G. (2015). Internal Migration in Indonesia. UNFPA Indonesia Monograph Series No.3, xii, 90.

United Nations DESA-Population Division and UNICEF. (2014). Migration Profile – Common Set of Indicators. DESA-Population Division and UNICEF. https://esa.un.org/miggmgprofiles/indicators/indicators.htm