South Asia economic focus: coping with shocks - migration and the road to resilience
South Asia is facing renewed challenges. The impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on food and energy prices on domestic inflation is long-lasting. Externally, countries’ current account balances deteriorate rapidly as imports rise on the back of economic recovery and rising inflation, remittances decline, and foreign capital flows out following monetary tightening in advanced economies. An economic slowdown in advanced economies and trading partners can also be a drag to the exports sector and remittances inflows, which many countries in the region depend on. These immediate challenges can translate to persistent deterrent to long-term growth and development. Higher energy prices already are changing the attitude of many countries outside the region about green transition and carbon reduction. The South Asia region is thus at a critical juncture. The theme chapter provides a deep dive into COVID-19 and migration. Migrant workers and remittances flows are important for South Asia as sources of income and means to smooth local income shocks for households, and as an important source of foreign reserves for the country. The pandemic changed the flows of migration, as some migrants had to return home and some had to stay in foreign countries due to COVID-related restrictions. The chapter studies the long-run trend of migration in the region, how COVID-19 impacted migration and remittance inflows, whether migration has (or has not) recovered, and proposes policies to address underlying problems.