Confined to Stay: Natural Disasters and Indonesia’s Migration Ban
This paper investigates the effects of international migration restrictions on communities’ capacity to absorb income shocks in the aftermath of natural disasters. We exploit the implementation of an emigration ban on Indonesian women as a natural experiment. After a series of violent assaults against female servants in Saudi Arabia, the Indonesian government issued a moratorium in 2011, thus preventing millions of women to migrate there as domestic workers. Relying on the exogenous timing of the ban and that of natural disasters, we estimate the causal effect of the absence of international migration as an adaptive strategy. We use a panel of the universe of Indonesian villages in a triple difference strategy to compare poverty levels in the aftermath of natural disasters in villages whose main destination is Saudi Arabia as opposed to others, before and after the policy shock. We find that in villages with strong ex-ante propensity to migrate to Saudi Arabia, poverty increases by 13\% after the ban in face of natural disasters, further aggravating the already severe consequences induced by those events.