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labor markets

Equal pay for equal work for migrant workers?

Sanket Mohapatra's picture

The recent negotiations between Philippines and Saudi Arabia about the minimum living wages for migrant workers have resulted in a stalemate. Philippines is demanding a minimum wage of $400 per month for its workers, while Saudi Arabia is willing to stipulate a minimum wage of $200 per month. Saudi Arabia stopped processing contracts of Filipino workers in March, recently the Philippines has said that it will not send Filipino maids to Saudi Arabia until the dispute is resolved. Saudi Arabia hosts 1.2 million Filipino migrants and accounts for nearly 300,000 overseas deployments annually, while the Philippines receives $1.5 billion annually in remittances from Saudi Arabia. Thus, this wage dispute could lead to loss of employment opportunities for Filipinos, involve cost of reintegrating returning workers, and a reduction in remittance flows -- all of which could adversely impact the Philippine economy. 

International Women’s Day: How Do Female Migrants Contribute to their Home Countries’ Development?

Sanket Mohapatra's picture

The New York Times recently featured an article on the contribution of female migrants to their families and to their countries of origin and destination. According to the Times, “Eleven years into the 21st century, women migrants have become a formidable force for development — and for the rise of women in developed countries whose careers depend on affordable child care.” Remittances sent by female migrants “…appear to be more frequent, regular and reliable even in times of crisis.”

Female migrants account for about half of an estimated 215 million international migrants in 2010 (UNPD). The share of women in skilled occupations has increased in OECD countries. However, there are very few rigorous studies that specifically consider the role of gender in migration. A few available studies suggest that female migrants typically send money for – and female recipients spend remittances on – human capital investments such as food, education and healthcare of family members (see evidence for Ghana).

Are migration motives and remittances behavior different for women?

Sonia Plaza's picture

Migration is a strategy followed by women when they face poverty or when they widowed or divorced. In India, women mainly migrate because they get married. In other countries women migrate to get better job opportunities, for education purposes or for family reunification. For example in Lesotho, since divorced women or widowers do not count with the income of a male migrant wage-earner, they are the ones who have to support their families.

Case study evidence of migrants’ labor market performance in receiving countries shows that most immigrants from developing countries, regardless of their destination, suffer an earnings penalty and higher inactivity levels and unemployment rates than nationals. In Europe, unemployment rates for immigrants originating from developing countries are uniformly higher than those from more developed economies. This gap is more pronounced for women than men across all skill levels (Page and Plaza, 2006). The situation is not different for immigrants in South Africa. The majority of female workers from Lesotho work in low-paying jobs since they have an irregular migration status. However, they get more money compared to what they get in Lesotho for the same work  that they do in South Africa. The majority of women from Lesotho work as domestic workers, followed by agricultural jobs and in the informal sector (Crush, Dodson, Gay and Leduka, 2010).

Will the economic recovery increase demand for immigrants in the labor market?

Sonia Plaza's picture

A recent study by PEW Hispanic Center states that immigrants are finding jobs faster during 2010.  According to the report “immigrants in the U.S. have gained 656,000 jobs since the Great Recession ended in June 2009. By comparison, U.S.-born workers lost 1.2 million jobs. The unemployment rate for immigrants fell over the same period to 8.7 percent from 9.3 percent. For American-born workers, the jobless rate rose to 9.7 percent from 9.2 percent.”

Two other labor indicators show a recovery for immigrants workers in the US labor market: 1) an increase in the labor force participation from 68% in the second quarter of 2009 to 68.2% in the second quarter in 2010; 2) an increase in the employment rate from 61.7% to 62.3% during the same period. The study also points out at the greater mobility of immigrants in finding jobs in different states. In a previous podcast we underscored the mobility of hispanic immigrants due to their diaspora connections (see previous post).

Mobile phone technology and remittance services for the poor

Dilip Ratha's picture

  Photo - istockphoto.com
At a meeting with CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) colleagues yesterday, I tried to barter my limited knowledge of remittances for their extensive knowledge of mobile technology and its vast potential to serve the poor. It occurs to me that among others, there is one more compelling reason for applying mobile technology to remittance services: the bulk of poor migrants tend to travel short distances, mostly within the country or to neighboring countries just across the border, and a large number of them stay within the calling range of domestic mobile phones. Such migrants typically cannot have bank accounts in the host country, and in any case banks do not want to serve them. These migrants rely on friends (or strangers) going home or hawaladars to send money home. More recently, it appears that they have discovered the idea of transferring mobile phone minutes. M-Pesa in Kenya has done well by capitalizing on this technique. Other mobile providers are also beginning to offer mobile phone remittances.

Diaspora Latina, remesas y crisis económica

Sonia Plaza's picture

Acabo de realizar una podcast entrevista con Ximena Gutiérrez (coordinadora del sitio web del Banco Mundial en español www.bancomundial.org) sobre cómo la crisis financiera mundial esta impactando a la “diaspora latina”, a la demanda laboral de los trabajadores migrantes y a los flujos de remesas a América Latina.

Crisis and Immigration: Is demand for migrant workers falling in the US?

Sonia Plaza's picture

This is the first year that the H-1B visa cap has not been reached during the first 5 days of filing applications. The current cap is set at 65,000, with an additional 20,000 for holders of advanced degrees. It seems that the number of petitions for the H-1B visa this year will be far less than last year. The U.S.