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Vital Yet Vulnerable: The mental & emotional health of South Asian Migrant Workers in Singapore

Nov 2015

Assistant Professor Nicholas Harrigan

Low-paid migrant workers, who form a vital part of Singapore’s economy and society, have been found to be a vulnerable segment.  Numbering nearly one million persons or a third of the local workforce, they face several challenges.

SMU Assistant Professor of Sociology Nicholas Harrigan, together with SMU alumna Koh Chiu Yee, both from SMU’s School of Social Sciences, conducted a study to understand the well-being and challenges of South Asian migrant workers in low-waged manual jobs.  Their research found that while regular workers are quite happy overall, there is a high risk of significant psychological distress among those with injury and salary claims.

What is the cause of their distress? What are the key challenges they face? How can we address the related problems? How do these affect the social landscape?  In this podcast, Assistant Prof Harrigan shares insights on the studies, including the survey methodology, key findings, causes of distress and underlying issues.  He also shares the implications and explores ways to address some of the problems, which can improve the welfare of migrant workers and contribute to social changes in Singapore.



Additional information for reference:

  • The above study is part of the Social Insight Research Series of reports on unmet social needs in Singapore driven by the Lien Centre of Social Innovation (LCSI) at SMU, which is run in partnership with Lien Foundation.  The Centre advances the thinking and capability of the social sector, and strives to be a thought leader and catalyst for positive social change in Singapore and in the region.
  • The full report titled 'Vital Yet Vulnerable: Mental and emotional health of South Asian migrant workers in Singapore', as well as research publications by LCSI are available for download here.


Podcast copyright: Singapore Management University.

Last updated on 3 Dec 2015.

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