Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Maid Dilemma

The Jakarta Post reported that Indonesia has threatened not to allow export of maids to Singapore if the latter does not put more effort to protect the maids safety. Many Indonesian maids died fell from tall buildings (they were asked, e.g. to do tasks such as hanging wet laundry from a high-rise flat).
This is tricky. Those maids need money. They can't really get enough at home due to tougher competition. Meanwhile, the pay in Singapore is well above what they can earn in Indonesia. On the other hand, the Singaporean households cannot pay their own labor. Indonesians muscle are more competitive. Supply meets demand. Even if Indonesia puts ban on its maids, black market will work perfectly. Instead of issuing threat, Indonesia should help make home more attractive to those maids. Provide incentive to labor-intensive firms who employs more low-skilled workers.

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