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The Efficiency Cost of the Kafala in Dubai: A Stochastic Frontier Analysis

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  • Raimundo Soto

    ()
    (Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile.)

  • Rosalía Vásquez

Abstract

The Kafala (or sponsorship) system is the key instrument behind the economic development of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and most Middle East economies. The system governs both labor migration and foreign investment by assigning a native-UAE sponsor to each migrant worker and each foreign investor. Sponsors enjoy significant command over these factors and extract sizable economic rents. Firms in free-zones, in contrast, are exempt from the Kafala system. Therefore, they provide an appropriate counterfactual to study the effect of policy regulations on technical efficiency. Using a representative sample of 600 firms of Dubai we estimate stochastic frontier models to identify and compare the degree of technical inefficiency between firms operating under the Kafala system and those in free zones. Our results suggest that on average technical inefficiency resulting from the Kafala amounts to 6.6% of total costs (or 11% of profits). Inefficiency is also greater among firms in Main Dubai in all economic sectors.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. in its series Documentos de Trabajo with number 399.

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Date of creation: 2011
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Handle: RePEc:ioe:doctra:399

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Keywords: Labor sponsorship (Kafala); technical inefficiency; economic rents;

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  1. Leopold Simar & Paul Wilson, 2010. "Inferences from Cross-Sectional, Stochastic Frontier Models," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(1), pages 62-98.
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  8. Nigel Pain, 1996. "Modelling Structural Change In The UK Housing Market: A Comparison Of Alternative House Price Models," NIESR Discussion Papers 239, National Institute of Economic and Social Research.
  9. William C. Horrace & Peter Schmidt, 2002. "Confidence Statements for Efficiency Estimates from Stochastic Frontier Models," Econometrics 0206006, EconWPA.
  10. Jondrow, James & Knox Lovell, C. A. & Materov, Ivan S. & Schmidt, Peter, 1982. "On the estimation of technical inefficiency in the stochastic frontier production function model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2-3), pages 233-238, August.
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