Reducing Mistreatment of Migrant Domestic Workers

  • DATE / TIME:
    2021•09•29    15:00 - 16:00

    Many migrant workers face exploitative working conditions, resulting from the highly asymmetric power relationship with their employers and their inability to enforce contracts. This seminar discusses whether reframing the initial encounter between migrants and employers can improve the relationship and working conditions in the longer run, based on a randomized experiment with Filipinas migrating as domestic workers to Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia.

    Before departure, treated migrants received the suggestion to introduce themselves to their employers with a small gift and show a photo of their family, with the aim to portray the migrant as a human being with a family and good intentions, thus potentially increasing the moral cost for the employer to mistreat the migrant. Two years later, treated migrants reported better treatment by the employers and reductions in mistreatment, and were also more likely to still work for their employer or plan to continue doing so. These experiments suggest that the effect is due to decreased social distance, not reciprocity.

    The speaker will be Toman Barsbai, Associate Professor of Economics at the University of Bristol and Senior Researcher at the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

    For more information, including a link to the online seminar, see the event announcement on the UNU-MERIT website.