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Saint Michael's College

Publication Date

Fall 2022

Program Name

Samoa: Social and Environmental Change in Oceania


This research sought to investigate the motivations, benefits, and consequences of international labor migration on Samoan families. Seasonal worker schemes in New Zealand and Australia were generally found to be beneficial to families given the tangible and material benefits it provided to them. The benefits of remittances were found to have been multiplied through investment in the village of Poutasi to increase industry and job opportunities. A lack of economic opportunity in Samoa was implicated in the motivation and beneficiality of participation in labor schemes and may have increased due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. Family was at the forefront of Samoans’ desires to improve economic conditions. Despite this, negative impacts of parental/spousal absence were found on children and wives in Samoa. Loneliness, infidelity, impaired relationships, difficulty child rearing, and behavioral challenges with children were referenced in the wake of migration. Cultural gender roles were also found to shift due to a labor vacuum from absent young men in family and village settings. Mitigating factors that were found to reduce the harm of migration were the use of technology, reliance on extended families, and duration of stay. Samoan families remained resilient in the wake of challenges caused by labor migration likely due to strong social networks and cultural understandings of migration.


Behavioral Economics | Family, Life Course, and Society | Migration Studies | Polynesian Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology


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