OFW Life: Leaving Family, The Opportunity Cost They Must Endure

OFW Life: Leaving Family, The Opportunity Cost They Must Endure

In economics, there is what we call an opportunity cost, which involves a tradeoff to achieve that opportunity. For most OFWs, the primary purpose for leaving is to work for the prospect of a better life. However, while a lot of them hear from others’ experiences what kind of sacrifices must be made, no Filipino is ever quite prepared for the true cost of their departure. Leaving the Philippines means leaving family behind.

Leaving their family can cause a series of positive and negative impacts. The immediate positive return of being an OFW would be the economic benefit of it since they would be able to provide better for their families that result in an improved financial security and greater living conditions for the ones back home.

But there are social costs that come with those benefits, those that we refer to as tradeoffs. The separation anxiety is one of the first things that are noticed when an OFW leaves home, but in the long run, the separation branches out into several other factors that affect the family ties.

For spouses left behind, they bear the burden of being a single parent, especially if an OFW spouse decides to migrate altogether. Of course, the absence of a partner not only leaves them a feeling of loneliness but also makes it all harder to establish the image of a complete family for their children.

Studies show that children who grow up without having any or both parents often feel emotional trauma, depending on the age their parent/s left.

For younger ones, they may develop a feeling of abandonment, where a part of them feel that they were unwanted, making it easier for their parent/s to leave.

For others, they learn to become easily detached from their parent/s, getting accustomed to a life without parental figures, especially since there wasn’t enough time to establish a close tie between one another.

Older children left by OFW parent/s, on the other hand, may be more tolerant since it is easier to help them understand the reason the parent/s need to leave.

However, the adverse effects don’t end with the act of departure. Parents serve as a lifelong guide to their children. Without them, or the absence of a father or mother will have greater effects than often perceived. For one, the values they learn would not be up to both the parents, but to who is raising them, may it be the remaining parent or a guardian. Furthermore, children consistently search for role models, and the absence of solid parent figures can misguide the development of their values, ambitions, and character.

Though it’s true that there are job opportunities abroad that may help make leaving seem like the best possible option, OFWs are often torn when having to weigh the pros and cons of it. Ultimately, even with the best intentions in mind, OFWs find that the seemingly better options still come at a hefty price.


  1. My personal advice for those OFW who spend a decade or two in a company>> So as in everything there’s no infinite status quo. Eventually the host country economy won’t enjoy prosperity forever. Boot out of the company as long as it is financially healthy. You and me maybe loyal, but loyalty doesn’t extend to the company’s coffers. Style of management changes, especially when their dealings spiraled southwards. Protect yourself as they protect themselves, unless you don’t mind your lengthy service goes down the drain.

  2. True. There is no such thing as a free lunch. There is a price for being an OFW.

  3. there is not much choice; even today on my last vacation feel na feel ko ang kakulangan sa ating bansa. Crowded, Noisy, Hot and on top of that mataas ang bilihin. Marami din naman tayo bagay na maipagmamalaki pero what the people needs ay yaon essentials na pangangailangan sa buhay. May progress naman, pero di na feel ng common tao; ang mga company ang lalong yumayaman. Under President Duterte reign may posibilidad na magkaroon ng true change; tanggalin ang contractual system – ibalik sa dating system para maampiyasan ang working people ng profit. Malinis na kapaligiran at mga mamamayan na may galang sa batas at mga government officials na may pananagutan sa bansa. Mabawasan ang krimen at magkaroon ng more trabaho. Magkaroon ng tunay na kapayapaan between gobierno at sa lahat ng kalaban ng bansa. Ang pinakamasakit dumadating ang time na kailangan ng umuwi ng OFW; pero salat pa rin sa buhay at hindi matugunan ng ating pamahalaan.

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