Southeast Asian labour markets are characterized by the diversity of the countries of which they are part and by the historical antecedents of colonialism that have largely given them their nature. Most have adopted a form of the export-oriented, import-substituting low labour cost manufacturing paradigm of economic development known as the East Asian Economic Model (EAEM). Having already passed through the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 and its disruptive effects, workers in the region are facing a different set of challenges as a result of the present ongoing crisis: these include structural changes to the EAEM and the possibility of public unrest in the continuing absence of genuine democratization across most of the region. These factors add some distinctive features to regional labour markets which, nevertheless, consist of people with the same aspirations and desires as those of workers throughout the world.


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