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Migration for degrading work as an escape from humiliation

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  • Stark, Oded
  • Fan, C. Simon

Abstract

This paper develops a model of voluntary migration into degrading work. The essence of the model is a tension between two "bads:" that which arises from being relatively deprived at home, and that which arises from engaging in humiliating work away from home. Balancing between these two "bads" can give rise to an explicit, voluntary choice to engage in humiliating work. The paper identifies conditions under which a migrant will choose to engage in degrading work rather than being forced into it, to work abroad as a prostitute, say, rather than on a farm. The paper delineates the possible equilibria and finds that greater relative deprivation will make it more likely that the equilibrium outcome will be "engagement in prostitution." It is shown that under well specified conditions, every individual will work as a prostitute, yet every individual would be better off working on a farm. Put differently, when specific conditions are satisfied, there is a possibility of a "coordination failure:" if individuals believe that everyone else will choose to be a prostitute, this belief will be self-fulfilling. In this case, all the individuals choose to engage in prostitution, which renders each of them worse off. The paper discusses various policy implications. It is shown that a policy intervention (a crackdown on migrants' engagement in prostitution), if implemented strictly, can increase everyone's welfare, but when the policy is implemented loosely, cracking down on prostitution will only reduce individuals' welfare without reducing their engagement in prostitution.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization.

Volume (Year): 77 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 241-247

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Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:77:y:2011:i:3:p:241-247

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jebo

Related research

Keywords: Migrants Relative deprivation Degrading work Humiliation Multiple equilibria Welfare assessment Policy implications;

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References

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  1. Akerlof, George A, 1980. "A Theory of Social Custom, of Which Unemployment May be One Consequence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 94(4), pages 749-75, June.
  2. Clark, Andrew E. & Frijters, Paul & Shields, Michael A., 2007. "Relative Income, Happiness and Utility: An Explanation for the Easterlin Paradox and Other Puzzles," IZA Discussion Papers 2840, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Lindbeck, Assar & Nyberg, Sten & Weibull, Jörgen W., 1997. "Social Norms and Economic Incentives in the Welfare State," Working Paper Series 476, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  4. Erzo F.P. Luttmer, 2004. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," NBER Working Papers 10667, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Rabin, Matthew, 1994. "Cognitive dissonance and social change," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 23(2), pages 177-194, March.
  6. Podder, Nripesh, 1996. "Relative Deprivation, Envy and Economic Inequality," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(3), pages 353-76.
  7. C. Simon Fan & Oded Stark, 2011. "A Theory Of Migration As A Response To Occupational Stigma," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 52(2), pages 549-571, 05.
  8. Basu, Kaushik & Van, Pham Hoang, 1998. "The Economics of Child Labor," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(3), pages 412-27, June.
  9. David G. Blanchflower & Richard Freeman, 1997. "The attitudinal legacy of Communist labor relations," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 50(3), pages 438-459, April.
  10. Stark, Oded & Micevska, Maja & Mycielski, Jerzy, 2009. "Relative poverty as a determinant of migration: Evidence from Poland," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 103(3), pages 119-122, June.
  11. Fuchs-Schundeln, Nicola & Alesina, Alberto, 2007. "Good-Bye Lenin (Or Not?): The Effect of Communism on People's Preferences," Scholarly Articles 4553032, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Alberto Alesina & Nichola Fuchs Schuendeln, 2005. "Good bye Lenin (or not?): The Effect of Communism on People's Preferences," NBER Working Papers 11700, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Stark, Oded, 1984. "Rural-to-Urban Migration in LDCs: A Relative Deprivation Approach," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(3), pages 475-86, April.
  14. C. Simon Fan & Oded Stark, 2007. "A Social Proximity Explanation of the Reluctance to Assimilate," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(1), pages 55-63, 02.
  15. Luigino Bruni & Luca Stanca, 2006. "Income Aspirations, Television and Happiness: Evidence from the World Values Survey," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 59(2), pages 209-225, 05.
  16. Andrew Postlewaite, . "The Social Basis of Interdependent Preferences," Penn CARESS Working Papers 6bd000503382ae2f0b90d25e3, Penn Economics Department.
  17. Michael A. Quinn, 2006. "Relative Deprivation, Wage Differentials and Mexican Migration," Review of Development Economics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 10(1), pages 135-153, 02.
  18. Christine Eibner & William N. Evans, 2005. "Relative Deprivation, Poor Health Habits, and Mortality," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 40(3).
  19. Stark, Oded & Yitzhaki, Shlomo, 1988. "Labour Migration as a Response to Relative Deprivation," MPRA Paper 21670, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  20. Oded Stark & J. Taylor, 1989. "Relative deprivation and international migration oded stark," Demography, Springer, vol. 26(1), pages 1-14, February.
  21. Stark, Oded & Taylor, J Edward, 1991. "Migration Incentives, Migration Types: The Role of Relative Deprivation," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 101(408), pages 1163-78, September.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Stark, Oded & Sorger, Gerhard, 2012. "Income redistribution going awry: The reversal power of the concern for relative deprivation," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 47, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  2. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Integration, social distress, and policy formation," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 25, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.
  3. Stark, Oded & Jakubek, Marcin & Falniowski, Fryderyk, 2014. "Reconciling the Rawlsian and the utilitarian approaches to the maximization of social welfare," Discussion Papers 162881, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  4. Stark, Oded, 2013. "Stressful Integration," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 63(C), pages 1-9.
  5. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Policy responses to a dark side of the integration of regions and nations," Discussion Papers 122036, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  6. Stark, Oded & Rendl, Franz & Jakubek, Marcin, 2011. "The merger of populations, the incidence of marriages, and aggregate unhappiness," Discussion Papers 109968, University of Bonn, Center for Development Research (ZEF).
  7. Stark, Oded & Kobus, Martyna & Jakubek, Marcin, 2012. "A concern about low relative income, and the alignment of utilitarianism with egalitarianism," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 114(3), pages 235-238.
  8. Falkowski, Jan, 2013. "Does it matter how much land your neighbour owns? The functioning of land markets in Poland from a social comparison perspective," Factor Markets Working Papers 171, Centre for European Policy Studies.
  9. Magnus Hatlebakk, 2013. "Intergenerational determinants of occupational choice: The case of international labor migration from Nepal," CMI Working Papers 2, CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute), Bergen, Norway.
  10. Mbaye, Linguère Mously, 2013. ""Barcelona or Die": Understanding Illegal Migration from Senegal," IZA Discussion Papers 7728, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  11. Stark, Oded, 2012. "Policy responses to a dark side of the integration of regions," University of Tuebingen Working Papers in Economics and Finance 28, University of Tuebingen, Faculty of Economics and Social Sciences.

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